I’ve Noticed a Trend
Jerry Lucky Commentary June 2014
Copyright Jerry Lucky © 2014 All Rights Reserved
There are a few TV shows I like to watch to see what’s happening with contemporary music. Two of them that come to mind are Jimmy Kimmel and Saturday Night Live. Not every band or musical artist I see is my cup of tea. Sometimes the band will be quirky enough to hold my interest. Say for example a band like St. Vincent. Other times it maybe an artist that holds no interest what-so-ever, but at least I get the chance to see them. Kimmel’s show tends to feature newer artists while SNL seems to go for the more “newly established” bands.
One of the interesting things I’ve noticed over the years is how cyclical music is. It’s not that new things don’t keep appearing, but it’s fascinating how much old is incorporated into the new. It shouldn’t really be surprising since good music has always built upon what has come before. But here’s the thing I hadn’t really seen or paid attention too in the past. It seems there is a “natural” progression that occurs between genres that allows for the intermingling of styles to ultimately create that something new. Let me try and explain. Keep in mind this is all very much an initial observation and more than anything else I’m throwing it out to you looking for any and all feedback.
It’s probably pretty obvious to everyone that music does tend to roll along seemingly with a life of its own moving in a forward direction absorbing new ideas, new sounds and new approaches as it goes along. So when I refer to this “natural” progression it’s something that is somewhat unique within genres. That is; for the most part Classical music evolves along its path, Jazz along its path, Pop/Rock along its own and so on. This incorporation of “the next” style tends to be along genre lines. That is until you get to Progressive Rock. More about this later. So first let’s see what I mean with a few examples
If we go back to the mid to late seventies and the emergence of the Punk Rock genre, it was a style that virtually exploded onto the music scene as a reaction to the music of the day. (By the way that – music of the day – didn’t in anyway disappear, it was simply displaced from media exposure) As Punk Rock gained exposure and media coverage more individuals took to thrashing their guitars and drums in some vague approximation of music. Then a strange thing happened! Many of these players started to become more proficient at their craft. Horrors! Now given that many of these artists had had some background in the Art Schools it seemed only natural that this aspect should rise to the surface and thus we see the emergence of New Wave music. So the “natural” progression of Punk was to morph into New Wave. In similar fashion, skipping ahead a bit and we see a virtual repeat of this with the transition from the Seattle born Grunge sound into the more the generally more accepted Alternative Rock style. And on and on it goes.
Now when I say that one style naturally progressed into the next style it’s not to say that everything from before disappeared. Not at all. Just like there were bands defiantly(no pun intended0 playing punk at the height of the New Wave era as there were those holding on to Grunge beyond its “Best by date…” so there will always be a trail of leftovers in the wake of each musical change. Now I’d be willing to be that there are more of these logical transitions but these are the first and perhaps most obvious that come to mind. You may think of others.
So what does this have to do with Progressive Rock you ask? Well getting back to those new bands on TV I’ve noticed a rather subtle and strange thing. More and more of them, especially the rock bands from the Alternative or technical side seem to be incorporating more diverse Proggy elements into their music. Most recently while watching The Black Keys I noticed some of the music they’re creating had more quirkiness, more performance, more “something” than just straight four chords and a bridge. And they’re not the first. More bands seem to be interested in doing more with their music and mining the well of Prog ideas.
Now I think this is a great thing. It certainly makes music more interesting to listen to because with bands incorporating prog elements it opens them to a wider range of sounds and styles to choose from since unlike all the other musical genres listed above, Progressive Rock is perhaps the only rock style NOT limited to past in-genre influences. Progressive Rock has always been about drawing from not ONLY rock but other genres as well, so this creates a veritable cornucopia of sonic delights to choose from. And that my friends could be a very good thing for new music. A very good thing indeed. At least that’s what I think.
Jerry Lucky (6/9/14)