Outta Style #5: Into The Unknown
So if you haven't figured it out yet, to kind of kickstart us writing more we've been doing prompts. This is just to kind of get the juice flowing and get us all in the habit of writing more (since we have been seriously behind lately). The kind of loose prompt we have is misconceptions about an album, genre, artist we had and what changed it. I've talked a little about my kind of never ending quest to try and be cool growing up (well I kind of skirted around it). Trying to find acceptance and trying to fit in where I just didn't kind of made me a little shit at points in my life and probably somewhat intolerable, constantly basing my opinions on what I thought others would approve of our shrink back at. I'm not proud of it. This lead to my definition of what's "punk" to be fairly small and close minded. Really when I look back now I basically lived in complete contrast to how I probably actually felt and to who I've grown into as a person. With my personality shrinking back in to pleasing myself and not others my music taste broadened and so did my definition of what is and isn't "punk".
I've never really been one for that "AH-HA!" lightbulb moment where everything suddenly clicks and the clouds part and the sun is shining and IT ALL MAKES SENSE SUDDENLY! I don't think that really happens, or at least it doesn't for me. Usually things take a lot more time and regular exposure. Usually there is some sort of catalyst that starts me down the path though. Here's two albums that helped me down the path of thinking about music differently and usually more critically.
Devo: Q: Are We Not Men A: We Are Devo
I have no clue when I first heard this or why. Ignorance is easy, especially when pertaining to an artist with a mainstream hit. For a long time to me, Devo was that band that did that obnoxious song Whip It, totally not punk. Devo may be the comparison to throw at any band that shows any quirkiness these days but for a long time I wasn't surrounded by the level of fandom that I am now. To be honest I don't remember anyone growing up that was super into Devo, or if they were they never brought it up when talking about music. This album kind of floored me though with how raw and aggressive it was under all that "weirdness". Of course the songs that appealed to me first were the faster songs like Uncontrollable Urge and Slap Your Mammy but eventually I started to find myself gravitating to the more airy songs like Space Junk. On top of making appreciate things that weren't just you know blazing fast power chords it helped me to start exploring into new wave a little more and finding the punk gems in there, stuff like the first B-52's album and Adam and the Ants' Kings of the Wild Frontier.
Kraftwerk: Die Mensch-Maschine/The Man Machine
I don't know if this is exactly what started my obsession with synths or not. Again it's always hard to pinpoint where certain obsessions start but this album definitely helped break me out of my idea of what a band could be. I know I listened to stuff that wasn't traditional rock band set ups but usually did a good job of sounding like it. Listening to the trends in mainstream music in the 90s it felt like the rock band was dying. The idea of having a drummer, a bass player, a guitar player, and someone doing vocals seemed to be fading away and I think this lead me to dislike a lot of electronic music. My sister was really into house music and other edm at the time and while I kind of found interest in it, straight out liking it would be betraying myself as a musician (or so I thought). These people are just pressing buttons and there is no real musicianship in it (I told you I was insufferable). I've realized that guitar music isn't going away anytime soon and that keyboards and laptops and everything else is not a threat and not the enemy. I feel like The Man Machine is definitely the most accessible Kraftwerk album without any background to krautrock and electronic music in general. It's more feels more constrained within the realms of the idea of a pop/rock "song". This falls a little into what Daniel mentioned when talking about Amon Duul II, while there are moments of less concrete music and more soundscape feelings, there are an awful lot of melodies to latch onto and beats to nod your head rhythmically to. The Model is still my favorite Kraftwerk song, the synth lines in it are all beautiful and constantly stuck in my head. A lot of the other Kratwerk albums definitely took me longer to wrap my head around and appreciate since there wasn't always a melody for my mind to latch on to. I do think it was this and Tubeway Army/ Gary Numan that really did start my interest into synthesizers and a lot more synth based music.
Anyways that's enough of the past, let's talk about the awesome records of the present!
Nachthexen – S/T 10”- A collection of their Other cassette and self titled 7”. A good way to get caught up with this band before their new 7” on Harbinger Sound. Nachthexen switch out a guitar player for a synth player who is pretty much playing leads the whole time. The drums propel everything with a super kick and snare heavy approach, super stompy yet upbeat and all around powerful. The bass rumbles on through filling in all the gaps and the singer gives a rather mordant delivery. Definitely killer stuff and highly recommended.