Friday, October 12, 2007

That '70s Shtick

There seems to be a lot of strange fascination with the 70s lately - Rilo Kiley loves that disco and Fleetwood Mac sound, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is channeling a dimension between J. Geils and Climax Blues Band, and now Fiery Furnaces gives us an Eleanor Friedberger wishing she were a Joan Jett/Suzi Quatro hybrid. (I saw Fiery Furnaces in Denver last year and hoped for some of that strange piano-driven Rundgren-style stuff, and got Eleanor being a metal queen - nice, but...)

What's my problem? It's not the 1970s I knew and loved. The one where the burst of punk in 1976-77 represented the highlight of the decade. The one where the glam rockers early in the decade, precursors to goth types, could always trump lovers of Bachman Turner Overdrive and Deep Purple with their collections of Roxy Music, New York Dolls, Mott the Hoople, and Velvet Underground. In fact, the only place where me and the metalheads came to common cause was Blue Oyster Cult, a band everyone could love for their cheesy chutzpah.

Given that prejudice, my vote for 1970s retro of 2007 goes to Thurston Moore's Trees Outside the Academy. Yeah, I know, Thurston is destroying the indie cred of his band, Sonic Youth, with a Starbuck's contract, but think of the wonderful things he continues to do in promoting unusual and non-commercial improv music. What's special about this album is he gets weirdo artists like Christina Carter to sing actual songs with traditional melodic structure on this album, and gives us a booklet with pics of himself as a teenager, worshipping Patti Smith and The Ramones and The Dead Boys while letting his red-haired freak flag fly. Now that's a 1970s I recognize.

No comments: