Friday, July 20, 2007

Burn Out, Bad Vibrations

I won’t rest until I’ve squeezed every drop of wit from the book/film so dear to this music snob’s heart, High Fidelity. Today’s offering: “Is it better to burn out or to fade away?” Nick Hornby is referring to Stevie Wonder as one unfortunate burn-out who perhaps should have slipped into obscurity. A more apt comparison for my generation would the Smashing Pumpkins. Their (so I’ve heard) less-than-stellar “reunion” album has undoubtedly disappointed die-hard fans looking for another Siamese Dream – heck, I’d settle for Gish: The Sequel. (Note my smarmy quotations around the term reunion – do Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin alone constitute a full-fledged reunion, and all the stampeding, hair pulling revelry that would entail?)

I haven’t heard the album “yet” (I’m resisting another High Fidelity reference here). Honestly, I’m afraid. A comment from comedian Ricky Gervais seems particularly pertinent here. On why he and Stephen Merchant chose to end the British Office after just two seasons, Gervais replied they had said what they wanted to say, and to continue would have been mindless repetition. (Incidentally, this kind of insight is precisely why the British Office will forever outshine its American counterpoint – to my mind, the American Office is the witty British version’s attractive, loud-mouthed younger sibling – she may be entertaining, but which sister would you rather hold a conversation with? But I digress.) Last month reported that British rockers The Verve were recording a new album this fall. And unlike poor Billy, Richard Ashcroft managed to patch things up with his wonder-guitarist, Nick McCabe – who, after listening to Ashcroft’s sub-par solo releases, I imagine was instrumental (ahem) to the Verve’s sprawling, sophisticated sound. I know, I know – this is an indie/college rock blog, but I am indebted to the Verve for easing my transition from radio dredge (what Thom Yorke calls “fridge buzz”) to more experimental fare. And I can’t help embracing that old wistfulness as I envision Urban Hymn’s follow up – especially since the band’s members have unequivocally denounced a reunion for the better half of a decade.

Probably, it will suck. Perhaps this is my hopeless pessimism, but I prefer the romanticism of a band “fading away,” like a gravely injured soldier resisting the urge to storm the battlefield one last time. Come on people, even if Neutral Milk Hotel recorded a new album, it wouldn’t be any good, right? That is what I keep telling myself.


Jason Br. said...

Maybe you are using your brain too much and not listening to your gut. It'll be damned hard for Corgan to win you over if you're too busy thinking about all this shit to listen to the songs. Did you go into the Feist record with a big mental conversation going on the whole time? "Tarantula" just makes me go "oooh..." on the inside. That seems like the proper criterion on what's "good" and on whether a band should "reunite" or not.

SonicRyan said...

While I can't speak for my fellow blogger, I can say that I did not really ever have that "oooh" feeling with the new Pumpkins record, which is why I'm already over the reunion.

But on the plus side, our new site isn't even all ready yet, and we've already got our first comment. And to a post that is nearly a month old.

Jason Br. said...

Hey, not having the feeling is a (the?) totally legit reason not to like the record.

The post showed up as "4 hours ago" in a Google blog search I did, so I thought it was a timely comment. Clearly not, however.

SonicRyan said...

Most of the content on this site is being taken from our previous attempt at a blog. So technically it was posted today. If you're curious to see the rest of the posts we have, you can visit our old site at, or just wait another day and everything (should) be on here.