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I always dreamed of a Unified Scene
October 23, 2011 6:07 PM   Subscribe

Folk-punk, Orgcore (UD definition) and Dadpunk are all names for a new wave of earnest, authentic rock that draws its roots from The Clash, Billy Bragg, The Pogues, Social Distortion and Bruce Springsteen. In England, its best represented by Frank Turner, the former singer of hardcore band Million Dead. His anthemic songs about life on the margins of fame, poetry, death, inspiration and the power of rock and roll have made him famous in England, leading to an upcoming show at Wembley Arena. He follows in the footsteps of British folk-punk pioneers Leatherface.

In America, the folk punk scene is lead by Against Me!, Hot Water Music, and The Gaslight Anthem. Against Me! went from political punk to renouncing strident politics as they gained popularity, with last year's major labor debut White Crosses polarizing fans. Songs like Pints of Guinness Make You Strong , We Laugh at Danger (And Break all the Rules) and Reinventing Axl Rose are still classics. Hot Water Music pioneered the gruff hardcore favored by many Orgcore bands, and their song Trusty Chords is an oft-covered anthem. In 2008, lead singer Chuck Ragan started the Revival Tour, which lets folk punk artists tour together and play acoustic music. It's hosted singers like Chuck, Frank Turner, Against Me!'s Tom Gabel, Lucero's Tim Barry and Dave Hause.


New Jersey's Gaslight Anthem gained attention with their punky debut Sing Or Swim, featuring the anthemic Drive and the Joe Strummer tribute I'da Called You Woody. Their second album, The '59 Sound, attracted the attention of Bruce Springsteen, who performed the title track with them in Hyde Park. Gaslight Anthem's move away from punk continued with last year's American Slang and lead singer Brian Fallon's new band The Horrible Crowes, who embrace a more Tom Waits style sound. Still, their success has inspired other New Jersey bands like Blacklist Royals and Titus Andronicus (previously) as well as Minneapolis' Off With Their Heads. They've also shared members with country-punks Lucero (The Devil and Maggie Chascarillo).

Philadelphia's The Loved Ones are starting to gain some ground, with lead singer Dave Hause working with former Hold Steady keyboardist Franz Nicolay (who also briefly toured with Against Me!) and touring with Frank Turner. The pastoral but intense Defiance, Ohio and the 'emo Springsteen' Jason Anderson both celebrate folk-punks' egalitarian roots by offering several albums up for download and constantly playing intimate shows.

In Australia, Poison City Records releases folk-punk albums by local bands like Jen Buxton, The Smith Street Band and A Death In The Family. They also put an annual Weekender in Melbourne for Australia's folk-punk community. In Sydney, Isaac Graham is getting notice for his sweet voice and for releasing a split with Frank Turner.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn (92 comments total) 85 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, wow ... I love stuff like this, but I've been out of it for awhile ... thanks!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:28 PM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


The strange thing about being a fan of... whatever this is this is that there's obviously a bunch of bands who work together and tour together and have a similar sound and there are obviously people who are specifically fans of most of the bands, but the borders are so porous and the labels are so ill-defined that it's hard to get a handle on it. I ran into some people I knew at Lucero this week, and I was trying to explain to another friend that I knew them from 'that scene of that stuff I'm into. You know, all those bands I like?'

It's probably better that way, though.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:33 PM on October 23, 2011


This post reminds me that Hammell on Trial is playing in Madison tonight but I might have already missed the show because I just got back from taking my kid to his end-of-soccer-season pizza party, and anyway I should do some work and put laundry away instead of going out to listen to a big sweaty bald guy whale on an acoustic guitar tonight, and I guess all of this is in some sense what the post is about?
posted by escabeche at 6:36 PM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love Lucero and Frank Turner and have never heard of most of the rest of this so I'll be here a while. Thanks!
posted by padraigin at 6:40 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's some good listening there, thanks.

I'd add New Zealand's Chris Knox to your list, at least as a forerunner of the new artists you name.
posted by Forktine at 6:40 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's a quote I found in some Uncut newsletter that I keep spreading around that sums up the attitude these bands have:

"The Gaslight Anthem, broadly speaking, share the same mythographical universe as The Hold Steady, a world in which rock’n’roll as played by the people who believe like they do can heal the most wounded and forlorn among us." - Uncut
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:42 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh wow, what an amazing post. I saw Frank Turner last Saturday in Portland (the good one) and he was magnificent. He's still out touring the US and Canada and if you can get a ticket you should go. I've not heard of several of the other bands here, which is both wonderful and also potentially very expensive.
posted by TheDonF at 6:45 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I caught that tour a year or two ago of former punk singers turned singer songwriter-types... chuck ragan, the dude from lucero, and the like. Good stuff... although I don't really listen to it much. Just a guy, an acoustic guitar... that is pretty punk....
posted by ph00dz at 6:46 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've seen all of these bands live, except Blacklist Royals and Titus Andronicus. Heard one Gaslight Anthem song, was hooked, saw them play a packed Sydney show, saw them again last year, met the lead singer, formed a band with another fan now... I'm a bit of a fanboy. Finally saw Against Me! this year and wrote a poem about it. Saw Frank Turner on the Revival Tour, playing for 30 people. Afterwards he played soccer and the whole tour went to the pub. Saw him again this year in a pub full of British backpackers, which was a bit strange. He never did show me his Hold Steady tramp stamp.

Was sick the weekend The Loved Ones played. They'd been opening for Rise Against. I missed them. Missed their festival. They announced a show down the street from my house. After a whole weekend in bed I hauled myself down King Street and sang along to them with about 40 other people. I was supposed to get him a Unified Scene shirt. Later that year I saw Dave Hause open for Hot Water Music and Bouncing Souls. He was also working merch, and was way too busy. I never did get him that shirt
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:55 PM on October 23, 2011


Oh, great.

Now I'm going to go reminisce about it being 2003, me being pissed off about everything, and Against Me! expressing whatever it was I felt way better than I could.

Danger!
posted by entropone at 6:56 PM on October 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have to wonder what Henry Rollins would say about all this...
posted by smcdow at 6:57 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Any recommendations for specifically political newer folk-punk?
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 6:57 PM on October 23, 2011


Any recommendations for specifically political newer folk-punk?

Defiance, Ohio
Bridge & Tunnel
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:01 PM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was sitting in a bar when a track from Against Me's 'White Crosses' came on. A cold chill of dread came over me- Is this the new album? It was.

Overproduced, commercial crap. WTF, Tom?
posted by dunkadunc at 7:03 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Billy Bragg is the shit (I mean that in the best way).
posted by newdaddy at 7:04 PM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was sitting in a bar when a track from Against Me's 'White Crosses' came on. A cold chill of dread came over me- Is this the new album? It was.

Overproduced, commercial crap. WTF, Tom?


If, theoretically, you're the sort of person who enjoys American Slang, Green Day's American Idiot, and The Hold Steady you might find yourself enjoying that song, and dipping into AM!'s back catalog and then feeling like a poser.

Theoretically.

No Franz on this tour, but they had Max Weinberg's kid Jay drumming for them. Was a monster.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:06 PM on October 23, 2011


No, I won't take your hand
and marry the state.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:09 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Pints of Guinness" is on my list of Songs That Unfailingly Make Me Cry.

So is Bragg's "The Price I Pay".
posted by robcorr at 7:13 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Against Me!'s White Crosses, (which features this song about outgrowing belief in revolutionary politics) was actually their second major label release. It felt like a slap in the face to listen to these lyrics from a band that had once proudly sung "Baby, I'm an Anarchist" ...still a good album, though!
posted by warreng at 7:25 PM on October 23, 2011


Every single day that my friends were posting about Occupy Sydney I resisted the urge to spam "I'm not looking for a New England, I'm just looking for another girl". I doubt Billy Bragg would have approved.

I enjoy this stuff despite the politics, though. I like the songs about old cars and redemption and the Power of Rock and Roll.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:27 PM on October 23, 2011


I have to wonder what Henry Rollins would say about all this...

Well, that makes one of us.

But I don't really understand how one can lump together Lucero and Hot Water Music. Lucero, to me, are on an altogether different branch of the musical tree. Hot Water Music---->Leatherface----->Hüsker Dü. Pretty much a straight line, all angsty emo punk with buzzing guitars and howling heartfelt vocals. But Lucero comes out of a different place, more akin to Drive-By Truckers, Dexateens, Okkervil River, Slobberbone. There's a country music sensibility, a sense of story and rootedness that Hot Water Music lacks. (And I like them a lot -- "A Flight And A Crash" lived in my CD player for months and months.)

Titus Andronicus annoys the hell out of me, but that's just a matter of personal taste.

Also, gotta plug some local guys mining this vein -- AA Bondy (when's the Shallow reunion, Scott?!), Dan Sartain (he's huge in Belgium!), and Taylor Hollingsworth are all making music along these lines, and worth a listen.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:54 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Perfect for high school graduation videos and beer commercials is about right"
posted by onya at 8:01 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't really like most of this music but I do like this post. Thanks LIB!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:08 PM on October 23, 2011


"The Gaslight Anthem, broadly speaking, share the same mythographical universe as The Hold Steady, a world in which rock’n’roll as played by the people who believe like they do can heal the most wounded and forlorn among us." - Uncut

Wow, that's one garbled sentence from a (presumably) professional writer.

"Mythographical"? The transcribing & compilation of myths? There are universes that compile other universes' myths? Or did he perhaps mean "mythological", but decided it didn't sound woo-woo enough?

Shifting from "universe" to "world" in one sentence? Yes, I get that "in a world..." is the single most overused cliche of movie trailers, but "world" in that usage is a synechdoche for the entire universe. Don't confuse matters by using a metaphor in the same sentence as whatever the metaphor is referring to; it adds precisely nothing to the meaning.

"Played by the people who believe like they do": the people who believe like the people do? The people who believe like Gaslight Anthem do? The people who believe like The Hold Steady do, or like both bands? Avoid ambiguous pronouns; there are at least three different parties who "they" could be standing in for.

And the entire "like they do can" construction is just jarring. It also gets hellishly confusing whether it's supposed to mean they have a belief that rock'n'roll itself can heal people, or whether having a separate belief "X" causes their music to affect people.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:15 PM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Perfect for high school graduation videos and beer commercials is about right"

Yeah, I like most of the music, wouldn't turn it down if it came on the radio, but likening it to the Clash (in particular) is way too .... something. Or to paraphrase whatzizname when he so eloquently handed Dan Quayle his ass in some debate or other, "I've met Joe Strummer, got drunk with him as a matter of fact, and high ... and you, sirs, are no Joe Strummers."
posted by philip-random at 8:18 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's nothing wrong with Gaslight Anthem that's not wrong with a thousand successful punk-lite bro bands!
posted by freebird at 8:32 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I like most of the music, wouldn't turn it down if it came on the radio, but likening it to the Clash (in particular) is way too .... something. Or to paraphrase whatzizname when he so eloquently handed Dan Quayle his ass in some debate or other, "I've met Joe Strummer, got drunk with him as a matter of fact, and high ... and you, sirs, are no Joe Strummers."

I only mentioned him because Gaslight, THS, and half these other bands worship him.

Ubu:

I may have paraphrased that quote to fit into the 'About Me' section of Facebook, since it was the best way to sum up my personality, but it makes sense to me.

It means that The Hold Steady and the Gaslight Anthem (who have toured together, share the same fans, and are incredibly important to me) share a mental universe. If you listen to them, each band uses certain recurring symbols and themes and characters - THS has Gideon, Holly, The Unified Scene, etc. Gaslight have The Cool, Maria, New Jersey, the River's Edge, etc.

But in both those universes - and in the universes of things like Bruce Springsteen songs or Green Day's American Idiot - Rock and Roll is a mystic force that can save people. Look at the lyrics to Gaslight Anthem's Id'a Called You Woody, Joe:

I was crawling around in my head in the haze of a trance.
Rico said, "I'ma turn you onto a sound, cool out your head.
This is the sound from Camden town."

And then I heard it like a shot through my skull to my brain,
I felt my fingertips tingle and it started to rain,
When the walls of my bedroom were tremblin' around me,
This ramshackle voice over attack of a bluesbeat,
Tellin' me he's only looking for fun.
This was the sound of the very last gang in town.


They believe - they truly, utterly believe - in Bruce Springsteen's 'Church of Rock and Roll'. And Gaslight Anthem believes that, and The Hold Steady believe that, and their fans believe that. We go to their shows and like Gaslight say, 'we sing with our heroes 33 rounds a minute'.

And if you've feeling bad, if things aren't working out, if you've depressed or broken up with your girlfriend or whatever than, in the words of Jim Steinman, if you hold on to a chorus you can make it through the night.

But rock and roll isn't enough to heal the wounded and forlorn. It needs to be rock and roll played by people who believe what Craig Finn and Brian Fallon and Bruce Springsteen and I do - it needs to be played by people who truly BELIEVE that rock and roll can save the crowd. Because when they believe it, than the crowd believes it. And no matter how bad things get, those songs will get you through.

Play us off, Frank Turner:

Hear ye, hear ye, friends and Romans, countrymen.
Hear ye, hear ye, punks and skins and journeymen
Hear ye, hear ye, my sisters and my brethren.
The time is coming near.


Hear ye, hear ye, now anybody could take this stage.
Hear ye, hear ye, and make miracles for minimum wage.
Hear ye, hear ye, these folk songs for the modern age,
Will hold us in their arms.

Right here, right now, Elvis brings his children home.
Right here, right now, you never have to feel alone.
Right here, right now, teenage kicks and gramophones.
We hold them in our hearts.

Now who'd have thought that after all,
Something as simple as rock 'n' roll would save us all.
And who'd have thought that after all, it was rock 'n' roll.

posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:43 PM on October 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


There's nothing wrong with Gaslight Anthem that's not wrong with a thousand successful punk-lite bro bands!

If you can find me a thousand bands who are anywhere near as good as Gaslight Anthem you'll need to buy me a new iPod to fit them all!
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:43 PM on October 23, 2011


I went to Hammell on Trial. He is a punk, and a dad, and he plays an acoustic guitar. His set, as always, was sterling. Thanks, LiB, for nudging me out the door.
posted by escabeche at 8:55 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I may have paraphrased that quote to fit into the 'About Me' section of Facebook, since it was the best way to sum up my personality, but it makes sense to me.

The problem is that the author was writing as if he was speaking, and he was speaking like a bit of a twat. What's wrong with "these bands believe their music can heal the most wounded and forlorn"? Simple, direct and to the point.

I got the gist of what he was trying to write, and think it could make sense if spoken with correct emphasis, but you can's assume your readers will parse the emphasis the same way as you intend, and every time I got to "like they do can" I had to do a double take, backtrack, and try to pick up the thread of the sentence again, because it suddenly went somewhere seemingly non-grammatical.

I did that around 4-6 times, before thinking "fuck that; good writing is meant to make things easier to comprehend, not harder." "Like they do can" was the main culprit, and it's hard to explain exactly why it doesn't work but it just doesn't. The other points were just further examples of extremely sloppy writing.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:03 PM on October 23, 2011


can't
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:07 PM on October 23, 2011


The problem is that the author was writing as if he was speaking, and he was speaking like a bit of a twat. What's wrong with "these bands believe their music can heal the most wounded and forlorn"? Simple, direct and to the point.

Because it's not just their music. There's a certain worldview that all these bands share. The closest it's been represented on screen is probably the Walter Hill film Streets of Fire.

Or... think of it this way. If you listen to a bunch of gangster rap, you have an idea of certain tropes, characters, attitudes, etc. If you listen to a bunch of heavy metal, you envision vikings and fire and death and blood. If you listen to the Decemberists, its old-timey nautical stuff. Dresden Dolls? Goths in dresses. etc.

Just because this scene doesn't have a name doesn't mean its different. THS and Gaslight create mini-universes, ones with their own rules and characters. But the one thing that runs them - the way money rules gangster rap and METAL rules metal - is the Power of Rock And Roll To Save Your Soul.

The closest thing in your Australian idiom, I think (besides Perry Keyes) is pub rock. Think of the last-call singalong to Khe Sanh or Run To Paradise. But the band needs to BELIEVE.

I post that phrase everywhere because its my statement of faith.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:09 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can we stop calling any new musical subgenre [blank]core? Thanks.
posted by jonmc at 9:11 PM on October 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's like Fugazi without the balls
posted by bardic at 9:19 PM on October 23, 2011


That was a writercore explanation, LiB.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:20 PM on October 23, 2011


That was a writercore explanation, LiB.

I went to a writercore gig last week - Okkervil River at the Metro. Also seen The Decemberists twice, and Bright Eyes next month. I prefer the term 'Litcore' though. There's some overlap with folk-punk (Okkervil and Bright Eyes have toured with Titus Andronicus), but litcore/litpop/etc is more indie. Though Gaslight do have the best punk song about Charles Dickens you're likely to hear, and they quote a rare translation of The Inferno in another song.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:23 PM on October 23, 2011


Speaking of Franz Nicolay, his most recent side project was with Mischief Brew, and their album Fight Dirty is pretty much everything I love about this genre.
posted by DeltaZ113 at 9:27 PM on October 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


If we're talking about independent punk artists with intelligent lyrics, can we please mention Ted Leo or The Thermals?

Also, whoa. A link to dobi.nu....there's a site I never expected to see again...
posted by schmod at 9:40 PM on October 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Most excellent post. I'd been meaning to do a post about how Frank Turner wrapped up his England Keep My Bones tour in USA, but I guess this'll do. :)
posted by xtine at 10:01 PM on October 23, 2011


Oh, oh. And Larry and His Flask must be mentioned..!
posted by xtine at 10:02 PM on October 23, 2011


If we're talking about independent punk artists with intelligent lyrics, can we please mention Ted Leo or The Thermals?

Not if it gets in the way of talking about Franklin Bruno.
posted by escabeche at 10:04 PM on October 23, 2011


The thing I love about Frank Turner is that he digs deep into English history, he seems like a really genuine guy, and makes awesome videos with school kids. Oh, and he has a hell of a way with a tune. I should've stayed and had a beer with him after that gig.

This year's England Keep My Bones album is superb.
posted by TheDonF at 10:05 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


kaibutsu will henceforth appendcore corecore onto every nouncore, in the hopecore of inventing a genrecore and silmultaneously annoy the pisscore out of jonmccore.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:18 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


jonmccore: deep down, all the bands are a little bit racist.

/jk
posted by stinkycheese at 10:20 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lovecraftcore must exist in some form. Probably a bad high school screamo band who needed a gimmick.

If Brooklyncore wasn't used by a Pitchfork writer to describe a group of hip young indie rockers who rocked slightly harder than usual I'll eat me wool flatcap.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:21 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


This all sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the post. I'm gonna dig in.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:56 PM on October 23, 2011


Lovecraftcore must exist in some form. Probably a bad high school screamo band who needed a gimmick.

Darkest of the Hillside Thickets? Endura? Shub Niggurath (sic)?

"Earnest, authentic rock" immediately makes me think of Mr. Band. "It will just be good music, played well by men."
posted by FatherDagon at 11:01 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Earnest, authentic rock" immediately makes me think of Mr. Band. "It will just be good music, played well by men."

I was going to make a joke about how the genre isn't entirely male-dominated because Titus Andronicus has a woman in it, but it looks like Amy left the band today.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:06 PM on October 23, 2011


I would just like to say that I bloody love Leatherface.
posted by Decani at 11:29 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


From wikipedia:

Turner was educated on a scholarship at Eton College, where he studied alongside Prince William, and later went on to attend the London School of Economics where he read History. His father Roger Turner, is the son of Sir Mark Turner, formerly chairman of high street retailer BHS, and had himself also attended Eton before becoming a City investment banker, while his mother, Jane, the daughter of a bishop, is a primary school headmistress.

hardcore
posted by dydecker at 12:40 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this where I say I miss Million Dead?
posted by knapah at 1:31 AM on October 24, 2011


There is much enthusiasm here, and enthusiasm is something I like. Also Billy Bragg et al, so I think I may find some stuff here to get enthusiastic about, too!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:15 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Um, it's not "Lucero's Tim Barry". It should read "Lucero's Ben Nichols" -- other than that, great post; looking forward to digging into a lot of those links.
posted by genehack at 3:29 AM on October 24, 2011


The information in this post is kind of fascinating. Someone suggested that if I like early Springsteen I should listen to The Gaslight Anthem, and so I got The '59 Sound and I looked at a couple of videos. They seemed relentlessly commercial and not very interesting. Very much like Springsteen light. Really, really light. For one thing, and in direct contrast to Craig Finn, I didn't believe for a second that the singer had lived any of the things he was singing about, even in the most generous and abstract interpretation of "lived." Without this post I would never have considered any connection to "punk" of any form. It kind of shocks me, frankly, that the guy even knows who Joe Strummer is, let along worships him.

Also, LiB, I like the passion you put into your posts, and the depths you plumb, but you've got 23% of the comments in this thread as I write this (12/53), many of them kind of responding to all comers who might not share your particular enthusiasm here. It's kind of a drag. It makes this feel less like a community post, and more like your post, like your own blog post. From comments you've made previously (in MetaTalk), I know you think that people can be too dismissive of your enthusiasms, but if you feel so strongly about these things that you need to make almost a quarter of the comments in a reasonably long thread, you may be too close to get the joy you hope for from sharing.

Also, Chumbawamba (before tub thumper, or whatever it was) were solidly in the folk (as opposed to country) punk bracket. And the Mekons were a bit to the country side of that.
posted by OmieWise at 5:10 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


if I like early Springsteen I should listen to The Gaslight Anthem, and so I got The '59 Sound and I looked at a couple of videos. They seemed relentlessly commercial and not very interesting. Very much like Springsteen light. Really, really light. For one thing, and in direct contrast to Craig Finn, I didn't believe for a second that the singer had lived any of the things he was singing about, even in the most generous and abstract interpretation of "lived." Without this post I would never have considered any connection to "punk" of any form. It kind of shocks me, frankly, that the guy even knows who Joe Strummer is, let along worships him.

I hadn't really heard of them before (other than mentions elsewhere on MeFi, I think) until now; I listened to a bunch of it last night and this morning, and this was kind of my reaction, too. Different strokes, different folks; your favorite band sucks; etc; but I didn't at all see the intensity or depth in them that you can find in Billy Bragg or Social Distortion, say.

Also, Chumbawamba (before tub thumper, or whatever it was) were solidly in the folk (as opposed to country) punk bracket.

True, that. I'm also reminded of Blyth Power and even New Model Army a little bit. The folk/punk overlap is deep and goes back a long way, and it overlaps strongly with "earnest guy music."
posted by Forktine at 5:39 AM on October 24, 2011


Um, it's not "Lucero's Tim Barry". It should read "Lucero's Ben Nichols" -- other than that, great post; looking forward to digging into a lot of those links.

Yeah, it should definitely be Avail's Tim Barry
posted by ndfine at 5:52 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


From wikipedia:

Turner was educated on a scholarship at Eton College, where he studied alongside Prince William, and later went on to attend the London School of Economics where he read History. His father Roger Turner, is the son of Sir Mark Turner, formerly chairman of high street retailer BHS, and had himself also attended Eton before becoming a City investment banker, while his mother, Jane, the daughter of a bishop, is a primary school headmistress.

hardcore



I have a dream that my little boy will one day live in a world where he will not be judged by the color of his blood, but by the content of his character.
posted by GodricVT at 6:24 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Without this post I would never have considered any connection to "punk" of any form.

Oh, those guys (Gaslight Anthem) played their share of basements and floors on the punk circuit. I can't say I disagree with you on the Springsteen-lite if what you know is The '59 Sound and later, because that shit is definitively terrible as far as I'm concerned. They always wore their affectations on their sleeves, and I always figured they could get past that and become a really excellent band, or else they would turn into what they did. Oh well.

One other point of correction to the post, LiB: Against Me's New Wave was their major label debut, not White Crosses. Otherwise, though, very cool post. I ran on the edges of this scene for many years, my hey-aren't-I-a-cool-guy story was an old band of mine opening for Against Me in a living room in Mississippi and in turn ending up on the cover of the vinyl version and poster for The Disco Before the Breakdown EP. It's not surprising to me how big they've become, even if White Crosses makes me want to poke sharp things in my ears, because seeing them perform back then it was clear they were working at a different level from their peers.
posted by ndfine at 6:26 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fantastic post - thanks
posted by photoslob at 6:36 AM on October 24, 2011


They seemed relentlessly commercial and not very interesting. Very much like Springsteen light. Really, really light. For one thing, and in direct contrast to Craig Finn, I didn't believe for a second that the singer had lived any of the things he was singing about, even in the most generous and abstract interpretation of "lived." Without this post I would never have considered any connection to "punk" of any form. It kind of shocks me, frankly, that the guy even knows who Joe Strummer is, let along worships him.

Where "commercial" = "plays instruments competently". And in a world where Joe Strummer is a really obscure figure, apparently. He's right behind Che Guevara in terms of iconic-because-he's-iconic figures in the musical worlds we're talking about. Also, fairly certain Craig Finn hasn't lived the life of Holly, Nightclub Dwight, etc. I believe he went to plenty of Youth of Today shows; I find it less likely he took a bunch of Ketamine and flushed diamonds down a drain.

I say this as a fan of all the artists mentioned, The Clash, THS and The Gaslight Anthem. If you're spending more time thinking about the artist's motivation instead of listening to the music, I think you completely missed the point of The Hold Steady's Stay Positive: let's stop endlessly criticizing those who attempt something to make ourselves feel better about not taking a risk.
posted by yerfatma at 7:01 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huge Frank Turner fan; pretty upset he skipped DC on this tour.

One artist this post is missing, I think, is Austin Lucas. I guess maybe he's a little more on the country side? Somebody Loves You is a great song.
posted by inigo2 at 7:02 AM on October 24, 2011


Huge Frank Turner fan; pretty upset he skipped DC on this tour.

The show up in Baltimore, at the Ottobar, was worth the drive.

And this may be the place to mention that Lucero and DBT are at the 930 right before New Years -- very much looking forward to that.
posted by genehack at 7:14 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


earnest, authentic rock

Of all my peeves, this one is my favorite to pet. Calling a rock and roll performance "authentic" is as meaningless as calling a Brad Pitt performance "authentic." Both are performances, imitative (re)presentations of emotion and action; they may be many things, but "authentic" is exactly what they are not. Calling rock and roll the genre, or product, authentic is nearly as meaningless, because rock and roll as a musical type doesn't exist in some single, original form. Appeals to "authenticity" in rock music are always merely gestures; playing at "let's-pretend" at best, more usually just marketing and pedantry.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:14 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think I've watched that Gaslight Anthem/Bruce Springsteen video about a dozen times since it was posted here last night.
posted by schmod at 7:23 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love the Gaslight Anthem. And I have no problem with songs ending up in commercials, or enjoying the kind of music that ends up being commercially viable.

I regularly post songs to my mp3 blog only to hear them 3 months later in an episode of Grey's Anatomy. My wife will watch an episode and I'll reguarly shout out the song in the background from downstairs. I don't lament that a song I love is in a cheesy commercial production, I think it's good that a band I enjoy might actually get some money and hopefully make more music for me.
So yeah, I don't knock well produced music that can end up in commercials and TV shows. They can still be great songs.
posted by Theta States at 7:28 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where "commercial" = "plays instruments competently".

No, where “commercial” means cynically crafting melodies, hooks, lyrics, and presentation for commercial appeal at the expense of artistic considerations. The music felt insincere to me, and bland and boring. Part of that blandness and boringness was a result of the safety that the above commercial choices push onto a band trying to do what I took them to be trying to do. It felt slick and cynical. They are welcome to whatever motivations they want, but those motivations may well affect the music they produce, and certainly individual listeners might respond to that. It’s interesting to me to hear that they actually did come out of the punk scene, and, as I said, very surprising, not because folks in the punk scene don’t decide to cash in, but because I didn’t hear any of that DNA in their songs.

Also, fairly certain Craig Finn hasn't lived the life of Holly, Nightclub Dwight, etc. I believe he went to plenty of Youth of Today shows; I find it less likely he took a bunch of Ketamine and flushed diamonds down a drain.

Yes, thank you Einstein. My point was perhaps too subtle, but I was referring to a distinct difference in authorial voice. I don’t think Springsteen was involved in the Starkweather-Fugate murders. “Nebraska” is a convincing song nonetheless. Finn is the same. I heard, again, cynical calculation in the authorial voice on The ’59 Sound, which did not convince me. Other people may not hear those differences, or may not care, but that doesn't make me "wrong" any more than it makes the other folks "right."

If you're spending more time thinking about the artist's motivation instead of listening to the music, I think you completely missed the point of The Hold Steady's Stay Positive: let's stop endlessly criticizing those who attempt something to make ourselves feel better about not taking a risk.

Yeah, bullshit. I don’t think Finn was talking about liking everything without critical opinion, and I don’t think that the Gaslight Anthem guys are taking a risk. That’s my point.

(Note, this isn’t about pop music. I quite like pop music. I just didn’t hear anything I liked in that album. That doesn’t mean I’m better than you, it just means we have differing opinions.)
posted by OmieWise at 7:33 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


My point was perhaps too subtle, but I was referring to a distinct difference in authorial voice. I don’t think Springsteen was involved in the Starkweather-Fugate murders. “Nebraska” is a convincing song nonetheless.

But that's a tautology: music I like it authentic. Music I don't like is not. See octobersurprise's comment above.
posted by yerfatma at 7:35 AM on October 24, 2011


But that's a tautology: music I like it authentic. Music I don't like is not.

No, you've created a tautology that I neither wrote nor subscribe to. How can my explicit rejection of authenticity as a criteria (Springsteen and Finn cannot be "authentic" if, as I admit, they have not lived the experiences they sing about) be used to suggest that I'm claiming that authenticity is the important consideration?

Sincerity and authenticity are two different things.
posted by OmieWise at 7:44 AM on October 24, 2011


I didn't really care that Against Me! stopped being anarchists- (I'm more of a socialist these days, anyway) but I do care that everything from New Wave on sounds like it was designed in a lab for kids who shop at Hot Topic.

In a way, I understand. The guys have had their big break, they don't want to go back to being dishwashers and are making what they can out of this. But at the same time, it's artistically hollow. It's like if Defiance, Ohio started doing MTV videos with Kelly Clarkson and using autotune.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:18 AM on October 24, 2011


In a way, I understand. The guys have had their big break, they don't want to go back to being dishwashers and are making what they can out of this

Yeah, not to mention the level of vitriol they received just from signing with Fat Wreck, can't say I blame them for getting what they can. There was no way to avoid being called sell-outs with that move, and they survived it pretty well.

But at the same time, it's artistically hollow. It's like if Defiance, Ohio started doing MTV videos with Kelly Clarkson and using autotune.

I dunno, that actually sounds kind of awesome and not at all terrible like White Crosses or 75% of New Wave.
posted by ndfine at 8:40 AM on October 24, 2011


From Wikipedia:

Strummer was born John Graham Mellor in Ankara, Turkey on 21 August 1952. His mother, Anna Mackenzie, a crofter's daughter born and raised in Bonar Bridge in the Scottish Highlands, was a nurse. His father, Ronald Mellor, was a British foreign service diplomat born in Lucknow, India. . . . Strummer spent parts of his early childhood in Cairo, Mexico City, and Bonn. At the age of 9, Strummer and his older brother David, 10, began boarding at the City of London Freemen's School in Surrey.

hardcore

Kill Yr Idols
posted by yerfatma at 9:46 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah exactly. And strummer had a silly line in working man posturing as wekk

i enjoyed this thread on ilx about what a tool this turner guy is www.ilxor.com/ILX/ThreadSelectedControllerServlet?boardid=41&threadid=89770
posted by dydecker at 9:57 AM on October 24, 2011


well
posted by dydecker at 9:58 AM on October 24, 2011


and I don’t think that the Gaslight Anthem guys are taking a risk. That’s my point.

Thanks, OmieWise, for making so many of my points for me in this thread.

Like I said earlier, I don't HATE the Gaslight Anthem stuff I've heard ... but, on a close listen, it sounds awfully safe, maybe even middle-class.

Now it's true that a guy like Joe Strummer's background is middle-class (or whatever) on paper, but what the basic info doesn't attest to is A. the fact that he came of age in the 60s/early 70s when the generations were very much at war with each other and outright rejection of your roots was a not uncommon thing, B. his much loved older brother killed himself at an early age. So yeah, regardless of where he was born-raised-schooled, Young Mr. Mellor had a lot of visceral doubt about his place in any of it.

Carry things forward a few years and you find the Clash in their early, pre-record contract days, sticking up posters for their gigs with a flower and water concoction, then eating the remaining of the flour and water for sustenance, because they couldn't afford to buy food. Which would all be a pointless detail if I didn't hear that kind of hunger in their music, but I do. And I don't in Gaslight Anthem's stuff.
posted by philip-random at 10:03 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's all a question of what you bring to it though. I picked up a copy of Return of the Last Gang in Town in my college book store rather than buying the books for my classes. If I had it to do again, I would buy the textbooks: the author spends the entire book slagging off the band, especially Strummer, for not being authentic enough (See the first review, from "Murphy", here). He's horrified to find the band members he idolized were not actually great Socialist thinkers. Of course, he's lost sight of the fact that he loved the band because of what they evoked in him, not whether or not Joe Strummer is a working-class hero.

you find the Clash in their early, pre-record contract days, sticking up posters for their gigs with a flower and water concoction

And jaunting off to Jamaica as soon as they got a record deal only to discover it wasn't the paradise they sung about. Instead, it was so scary they spent the time locked in their hotel. But they got a song out of that as well. The pursuit of authenticity or sincerity in artists rather than in art is a Mug's Game. At best, it's navel gazing. At worst, it leads to needless divisions and resentment.
posted by yerfatma at 10:18 AM on October 24, 2011


Can someone please tell me which Rush album is best, and why?
posted by Theta States at 10:46 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


, but the borders are so porous and the labels are so ill-defined that it's hard to get a handle on it

I think that's true of any musical scene, having lived through a couple. It's only clearly defined in retrospect, and even then it falls apart if you look closely.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:50 AM on October 24, 2011


How do these guys reconcile Joe Strummer's kill-your-idols talk with playing Bruce Springsteen music 35 years after the fact? Are there any interviews where they talk about that?
posted by Adventurer at 10:55 AM on October 24, 2011


Adventurer: "How do these guys reconcile Joe Strummer's kill-your-idols talk with playing Bruce Springsteen music 35 years after the fact? Are there any interviews where they talk about that?"

The weird thing about Bruce is that, for such an influential artist, he has surprisingly little....influence. Springsteen didn't inspire a musical revolution, and his music is very distinctly his own. The only "Springsteen-esque" music I can think of is kind of recent.

Also, I think that The Gaslight Anthem's resemblance to Bruce might be more of a case of history repeating itself, than it is directly derivative of Bruce's work...

A bunch of working-class guys from the Jersey Shore are down on their luck, and living in a country that doesn't understand them (while it gleefully gallops toward the brink), and decide to create a band that is simultaneously edgy, but pays direct homage to Rock & Roll's roots.

It's not that The Gaslight Anthem set out to create a Springsteen Cover band....it's that 2002 was eerily similar to 1972.
posted by schmod at 11:24 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's pretty well-known that Joe Strummer was a rich kid. John Lydon liked listening to Pink Floyd and Can records too!

/mind blowing punk facts
posted by stinkycheese at 11:30 AM on October 24, 2011


I love folk music, and I love punk, but I don't particularly care for some of this stuff. Some of it I can get into--AVAIL, (older) Against Me!, Billy Bragg--but I feel like most of it is lost on me somehow.

I aslo feel like, no matter how many times they invoke the name, Joe Strummer and The Clash belong in a totally different bracket than this stuff. I made a genuine argument for The Clash as being the best rock band ever a few weeks ago, and I would cringe if I heard someone say that about any of the linked acts here (except Springsteen, maybe). The Clash had a lot to say about topics bigger than their own emotional response to the world, and I feel like that is just about all that a lot of these bands do. I loved The Hold Steady for a long while, because it was good bar rock with great writing, but at some point I just got tired of hearing someone talk about what it's like to be involved in that scene and how it makes them feel and how through their efforts rock music will save everybody's life. It just seems self indulgent and overly reflective. I need a little more substance, and bands like the Clash have plenty of subject matter that fills that need.

Some of these bands and acts, though, like Billy Bragg or Against Me for example, do such a great job of riding the line between emotive personal stuff and social, political, and class themes that it works out great. Other acts in this scene, like Lucero, strike me as a complete sham (mostly Lucero, I guess, just because I don't want to hear about the experience of an ex-skater straightedge hardcore kid from Tennessee in World War One or whatever). I'm not sure how people like Strummer (whose family life and wealth have been pretty common knowledge for a long while now, I think) manage to avoid coming off in a way that annoys me, but they do (did).

Still though, an excellently comprehensive post that gave me a lot to listen to. Good work.
posted by broadway bill at 11:41 AM on October 24, 2011


I'm not sure how people like Strummer (whose family life and wealth have been pretty common knowledge for a long while now, I think) manage to avoid coming off in a way that annoys me, but they do (did).

If you haven't already seen it, the recent movie about Mr. Strummer -- The Future Is Unwritten -- fills in more than a few blanks.
posted by philip-random at 11:54 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's like Fugazi without the balls posted by bardic at 9:19 PM on 10/23

Jesus, like to see you say that to Frankie Stubbs (Leatherface front man). They're from Sunderland, and been about since 1988. Definitely not lacking in balls.
posted by MattWPBS at 12:57 PM on October 24, 2011


The pursuit of authenticity or sincerity in artists rather than in art is a Mug's Game. At best, it's navel gazing. At worst, it leads to needless divisions and resentment.

You may not be understanding my use of synecdoche. When I complain about the sincerity of Gaslight Anthem guys, I am talking about their art. However, you seem to want to keep conflating sincerity and authenticity, without saying why we should consider them the same thing.

Is your position that one should not be critical of anything someone else deems art? I'm seriously confused, given what you've written here, about whether any art criticism is possible.
posted by OmieWise at 12:57 PM on October 24, 2011


Like I said earlier, I don't HATE the Gaslight Anthem stuff I've heard ... but, on a close listen, it sounds awfully safe, maybe even middle-class.

What's wrong with middle-class music? I grew up middle class. Brian Fallon grew up listening to his mom playing Springsteen music. He writes about his life - 1930 is about his grandmother, 59 Sound is about his friend dying. He writes about being young but feeling too old, which I haven't heard enough songs about. And it's a crime to be catchy now?

I do wish he hadn't borrowed a Counting Crows lyric for High Lonesome, but it works.

The 'authenticity' is because the emotions are real. Holly is a character, but everyone knows a Holly or a Saphire. Brian is just nakedly honest: "I never felt right, I never fit in".

Ted Leo is probably a better fit for what some people here are looking for, and I should have mentioned him.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:41 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, what? I haven't listened to his most recent album, but I've been a huge Ted Leo fan since Chisel, and I would never associate Hume with folk at all. How does he fit in here? (Serious question.)
posted by OmieWise at 6:03 PM on October 24, 2011


Wait, what? I haven't listened to his most recent album, but I've been a huge Ted Leo fan since Chisel, and I would never associate Hume with folk at all. How does he fit in here? (Serious question.)

The boundaries I'm drawing are pretty loose, and they're mostly around attitude and relationships more than sound. He's earnest, he's consciously Joe Strummer-influenced, he's punky and a bit Springsteen-esque sometimes, he's been in/worked on Titus Andronicus videos, and a few people in this thread say I should have included him. He's more political and a bit less pop sometimes, but I think he fits in comfortably.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:05 PM on October 24, 2011


Well, I really love Ted Leo. Really really love Ted Leo. There was a time when 8am All Day never left my cd tray. So including him in anything seems like a good idea to me. But if the boundaries are that loose, this seems kind of just like a " bands I like" post. I just don't see any real connection, otherwise.
posted by OmieWise at 6:17 PM on October 24, 2011



Well, I really love Ted Leo. Really really love Ted Leo. There was a time when 8am All Day never left my cd tray. So including him in anything seems like a good idea to me. But if the boundaries are that loose, this seems kind of just like a " bands I like" post. I just don't see any real connection, otherwise.


It... sorta is? But OTOH, if you saw that Ted Leo had been added to the Revival Tour or that he was opening for Frank Turner or Gaslight Anthem, would you be surprised for one second?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:36 PM on October 24, 2011


It... sorta is? But OTOH, if you saw that Ted Leo had been added to the Revival Tour or that he was opening for Frank Turner or Gaslight Anthem, would you be surprised for one second?

Ok. I've just been trying to understand the grouping here, that's all.

I wouldn't be surprised, but that has more to do with having a certain status and appeal rather than any particular similarity.
posted by OmieWise at 3:36 AM on October 25, 2011


Is your position that one should not be critical of anything someone else deems art?

No, and "art" was a poor choice of words on my part. It just bothers me that fans of "punk" music (and other genres of similar popularity) insist on forming circular firing lines to determine which is best rather than all agreeing they're superior to Justin Bieber fans and moving on.
posted by yerfatma at 6:00 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


they're superior to Justin Bieber fans and moving on.

Quoted for truth.
posted by OmieWise at 8:16 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


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