Post-2001 music

ENGLISH VERSION (french below) I'm back with a "post". My obsession with "post-skate" music still isn't cu...

ENGLISH VERSION
(french below)


I'm back with a "post". My obsession with "post-skate" music still isn't cured, and here I am talking about "post-2001". Things are getting serious. Well... almost, because I've been playing with the post-2001 idea for several years now, without ever given it a definition, a context, an article. I'm doing it today without any ambition to stick a new label on a thriving scene. The post-2001 is not a real movement; it describes a small handful of bands that, I think, are producing something worth describing.


So... here we are. One may define post-2001 music thanks to three elements:


The first one is its entertainment, a music at the antipodes of experimental things. It's a response to the 90s, to complex structures, noisy guitars, and free jazz drums. Post-2001 aims at the immediate efficiency of a melody rather than the intellectual masturbation of a Dinosaur Jr.


The second is a nineties swing, despite what I just said. Post-2001 music is indeed American, and it is true to the Empire. These Empire bands, which I discussed with Bret Easton Ellis, are an apology for big, bold America, the one that thought it was infallible. It was the era of Warner and co, the huge entertainment producing houses, culture at the helm for the blank generation. There's no room for anything hesitant in post-2001 music; everything has to be perfectly calibrated to make a hit.


The third one, and that's what makes it so recognizable, is its fidelity to The Strokes. Is This It was released in July 2001, creating a veritable storm in New York City. Having connections helps. Some criticized the band (as always), saying it was too close to the sound of Richard Hell and Television (see my conversation with Mike Sniper, the creator of Captured Tracks). It didn't prevent a meteoric rise, a reak American Dream. The attacks against the two towers didn't change a thing: a scene has just emerged to deliver some great indie rock.


So these are the ingredients of post-2001 music. And of course, all the bands from the 2000s are automatically excluded.


Yeah, I would admit that to describe as such any artist who meets these criteria alone is not representative of the full scope of U.S. independent music in the early 2000s. The Strokes were undoubtedly huge, but they weren't alone; the White Stripes, for example, also had their say in terms of movement. The same way, if we call "post-2012" everything that sounds like Mac DeMarco in 5 or 6 years, we would be far from capturing the D.I.Y. scene of the early 2010s. True, but still. The Strokes have delivered a sound recognizable among all, with the attitude that goes with it: "Fuck you, we're American, and we can snub whoever we want." Post-2001 it will be.


But who are these bands that fit the genre? I'm not going to shirk my obligations, but I want to point out how many bands might not appreciate the label beforehand. When I asked Sunflower Bean about Sheer Mag, Nick said to me, "I think that Sheer Mag will be very upset when they'll hear that you're comparing them with The Strokes." But not everyone will react the same way. In a forthcoming interview on Still in Rock, Personality Cult told me about The Strokes:


"I listened to those records as they were coming out and I really loved them! I was a teen and then I definitely got to be "too cool" and talked shit on 'em for a bunch of years. I used to be in a band called Paint Fumes and we were on a European tour. Someone brought up The Strokes in the van and I was like, "yeah, fuck that fake garage bullshit," so my buddies put on one of their records. I was proven way wrong. Of course, they're not a punk or garage band! That's not the point. The Strokes are great songwriters and their records just SOUND good. I don't think I'd call them an influence, but I dig the band. After that moment, I decided that being too cool for a band is fucking stupid and super limiting. Not saying Sheer Mag or anyone else who doesn't like the Strokes is wrong or is acting too cool, just saying that I was wrong and acting like a brat."


**


Precisely the attitude I like! So here is my little list of post-2001 bands, and too bad if they hate me to include them in it:


  • Sheer Mag: If ever there was a post-2001 music ambassador, it would be Sheer Mag. Each song of the band seems to be built on a Strokes basis, with the confidence of an Empire band and far from any too experimental chord. The band delivers hit after hit, a killer.
  • Dumb: not everything is post-2001 with Dumb, far from it. And he's not American! Nevertheless, several tracks great representative of the post-2001 genre, as it's difficult to find more entertaining music these last several years.
  • Personality Cult: the band has included post-2001 chorus in quite a few of its songs, for example in the excellent "Sharp Edge" which sends us straight to a college campus, on a Friday night, at 7 pm sharp!
  • Omni: underneath its garage aspect, the band has a few post-2001 songs to include in any compilation of the genre. This is especially true for their album Deluxe, released in 2016.
  • Thigh Master: it too is not American, it too is flirting with post-skate music (even if he has tended to part with it for some time), and it too has delivered several tracks right in the middle of the post-2001 thing whose immediacy would make Julian Casablancas blush. 

Those are the five I wanted to mention. Let the music do the rest, and let the post-2001 bands flourish in the streets of West Village or elsewhere. The underground scene is still imperialist, somewhere.



FRENCH VERSION

 

Me revoilà avec un “post”. Mon obsession pour le "post-skate” n’est toujours pas soignée que je parle désormais de "post-2001”. La chose devient grave. Enfin… presque, parce qu’en réalité, cela fait plusieurs années déjà que je m’amuse avec la chose post-2001, sans trop ne lui avoir jamais donné une définition, un contexte, un article.

 

Si je le fais aujourd’hui, ce n’est pas par ambition de coller une nouvelle étiquette à une scène florissante. Le post-2001 n’est pas un véritable mouvement, il décrit une petite poignée de groupes qui me semble toutefois représenter quelque chose d’intéressant.

 

Le post-2001, c’est effectivement une musique que l’on peut qualifier en trois temps.

 

Le premier, c’est son aspect Entertainment, une musique aux antipodes de la chose expérimentale. C’est une réponse aux années 90s, aux structures complexes, aux guitares noisy et batterie free jazz. En cela, le post-2001 vise l’efficacité immédiate d’une mélodie plutôt que la masturbation intellectuelle d’un Dinosaur Jr.

 

Le deuxième, c’est un élan nineties, en dépit de ce que je viens d’exprimer. La musique post-2001 est effectivement américaine, et elle est fidèle à l’Empire. Ces groupes Empire, dont j’ai discuté avec Bret Easton Ellis, font l’apologie de la grande Amérique, celle qui se croyait infaillible. C’était l’ère des Warner and co, des énormes maisons à produire du divertissement, de la culture en barre pour la blank generation. Pas de place à l’à peu près dans la musique post-2001, tout est parfaitement calibré pour former un hit.

 

Le troisième, et c’est ce qui la rend si reconnaissable, c’est sa fidèle aux Strokes. Is This It paraît en juillet 2001, et cet été-là, il crée une véritable déferlante dans la ville de New York. Avoir des connexions, ça aide. Quelques-uns critiquent le groupe (comme toujours il y en a), ils le disent trop proche de Richard Hell et Television (voir ma conversation avec Mike Sniper, le créateur de Captured Tracks). Cela n’empêche pas une ascension fulgurante, un véritable American Dream. Les attentats contre les deux tours n’y changeront pas : une scène vient d’émerger, et elle entend délivrer de l’allégresse en indie rock.

 

Voilà donc les ingrédients de la musique post-2001. Bien entendu, décrire comme tel tout artiste qui remplit ces seuls critères n’est pas représentatif de toute l’étendue de la musique indépendante américaine du début 2000s. Les Strokes étaient certes tout à fait huge, mais ils n’étaient pas seuls, les White Stripes, par exemple, avaient également leur mot à dire en matière de mouvements. Au même titre, si l’on qualifiait de post-2010 tout ce qui sonnera comme Mac DeMarco dans 5 ou 6 ans, on serait loin de capturer la scène D.I.Y. du début 2010s. Certes, mais quand même. Les Strokes ont délivré un son reconnaissable parmi tous, avec l’attitude qui va avec : « fuck you, on est américain, et on toise qui on veut ». La chose est donc actée : post-2001 elle sera.

 

Alors, qui sont ces groupes actuels qui rentrent dans le genre ? Si je ne compte pas me dérober à mes obligations, je veux préalablement relever à quel point plusieurs groupes pourraient ne pas apprécier l’étiquette. Lorsque je questionnais Sunflower Bean au sujet de Sheer Mag, Nick me confiait : « I think that Sheer Mag will be very upset when they hear that you're comparing them with The Strokes ». Mais tous ne réagiront pas de la même façon. Dans un interview à paraître sur Still in Rock, Personality Cult me disait à propos des Strokes :

 

« I listened to those records as they were coming out and I really loved them! I was a teen and then I definitely got to be "too cool" and talked shit on 'em for a bunch of years. I used to be in a band called Paint Fumes and we were on a European tour. Someone brought up The Strokes in the van and I was like, "yeah, fuck that fake garage bullshit," so my buddies put on one of their records. I was proven way wrong. Of course, they're not a punk or garage band! That's not the point. The Strokes are great songwriters, and their records just SOUND good. I don't think I'd call them an influence, but I dig the band. After that moment I decided that being too cool for a band is fucking stupid and super limiting. Not saying Sheer Mag or anyone else who doesn't like the Strokes is wrong or is acting too cool, just saying that I was wrong and acting like a brat.»

 

 Exactement l’attitude que j’aime ! Voici donc ma petite liste des groupes post-2001, et tant pis s’ils me détestent pour les inclure :

  • Sheer Mag: s’il devait y avoir un ambassadeur de la musique post-2001, ce serait Sheer Mag. Chaque morceau du groupe semble être construit sur une base The Strokes, avec la confidence d’un groupe Empire et loin de tout accord trop expérimental. Le groupe delivrer hit sur hit, un tueur.
  • Dumb : tout n’est pas post-2001 chez Dumb, loin de là. Et il n’est pas américain ! Il n’en demeure pas moins que plusieurs morceaux me semblent devoir s’inscrire dans le genre post-2001 tant il est difficile effectivement de trouver une musique plus entertaining ces dernières années.
  • Personality Cult : lui aussi semble être décidé à inclure des partitions post-2001 au milieu de ses morceaux, j’en veux pour exemple l’excellent “Sharp Edge” qui nous envoie tout droit sur le campus d’un college, un vendredi soir, à 20h pétante !
  • Omni : sous ses airs de garage, le groupe détient quelques morceaux post-2001 à inscrire dans toute compilation du genre. C’est surtout vrai pour son album Deluxe, paru en 2016.
  • Thigh Master : lui aussi n’est pas américain, lui aussi flirte avec la musique post-skate (même s’il a tendance à s’en séparer depuis quelque temps), et lui aussi a délivré plusieurs morceaux en plein dans la chose post-2001 dont l’immédiateté ferait rougir Julian Casablancas. 

Ce sont les cinq que je voulais mentionner. Que la musique fasse le reste, et que les groupes post-2001 continuent de fleurir, dans la rue de West Village ou ailleurs. La scène underground est encore impérialiste, quelque part.


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