Welcome to 2013. By now you are just about settled in; Christmas is a fading memory, New Year is a memory you were never party to, and it is time to start looking ahead. What do we have to look forward to in 2013?
A Stone Roses documentary and a new Liam Gallagher album, according to the NME. Picking up the magazine from a couple of weeks ago you would have been forgiven for thinking that you had stumbled across an historic artefact, a piece that had somehow lain undisturbed on the shelves for almost twenty years. But no, your newsagent is not that sloppy and, assuming the flux capacitor remains elusive, you have not stepped back in to 1994. It is 2013, and that is really what we are expected to look forward to.
The January 12th issue of the music weekly features a full cover picture of the face that launched a thousand football hooligans, whilst offering an exclusive Stone Roses interview and reporting on Johnny Marr’s current studio progress.
Am I not all agog over Shane Meadows’ decision to film a documentary focusing on the reunion of a once-great band? Do I not believe Liam Gallagher’s status as the former figurehead of an era-defining band should afford some leniency when assessing his post-Oasis output? After his work with Modest Mouse and The Cribs, do I not conceive of Johnny Marr as a creative chameleon? No, no, and no. Shane Meadows is a great director with an apparently questionable taste in music; Liam Gallagher is an epoch-defining figure, it just so happens the epoch is most notable for its parker-pedestrian approach to music, and Johnny Marr will continue to suffer my ire for ever having being involved with the insipid manipulator Steven Patrick Morrissey. Moreover, whether resurrected or simply still groaning on, they represent a raft of bands that just simply refuse to die.
Oasis and The Stone Roses were variously atrocious and frighteningly over embraced in the first instance, and whilst that is understandably a factor in wanting to welcome their demise, it isn’t a limiting factor: David Bowie’s pre-millennial oeuvre moved to challenge the core limitations of pop music and yet with his recent single, released almost forty years after his debut, he has earned a place amongst the guilty. Although money is presumably a motivating factor for the majority of acts’ perseverance (The Stone Roses pocketed £15 million from their recent reform), exploiting dedicated fans is another issue. This issue is one ably and ironically articulated by the aged Modfather, Paul Weller:
“I come from a time when all the artists I grew up with and I loved always used to try and push the boundaries and there doesn’t seem so much of that really. It is the same sort of thing, and I find it disappointing” (Paul Weller as quoted in the NME, 2012).
I find it disappointing too. When spent forces peddling tired, safe hits from yesteryear dominate festivals and begin carving out an expanding piece of a shrinking commercial pie, new music has to follow suit: nostalgia and derivation abound. Jake Bugg may only be 18 years old but his musical shtick is almost twice that. Bands are constantly been seen to sell themselves on their influences, not their merits.
NME was once the bastion of emerging talent but they have seemingly taken a conscious decision to neglect what the N in their name represents. Admittedly the NME of today has a readership that rarely exceeds the population of Hyde Park, and is less often charged with being the taste-maker it once was, but the fact that one of the last weekly music magazines left on our shelves has featured more ageing and increasingly deceased cover stars than they have living and breathing breakthrough talents is a sad indictment of the current state of the music industry. This is England, 2013; don’t get too excited
Words: Liam Ward
Photos: StoneRosesHeatonPark – ae.edge / LiamGallagher – Will Fresch / Johnny Marr – Man Alive / Paul Weller – Fr.Zil / Jake Bugg – wfuv / NME – NME