Wednesday, November 01, 2006


After a certain point in my musical life I came to a point where I realized that an absolute line dividing good and bad music did not exist. King Crimson was not the greatest band ever, and all pop music was not irrelevant. I think I had know about it all along, like my inexplicable love for Styx and Def Leppard near the end of high school. I knew it wasn't "great" music but I still enjoyed it to certain extent. There was some basic human component that was still effected by this shallower kind of music that didn't care if my friends wanted to have a You're-Not-Allowed-To-Listen-To-Rod-Stewart-Anymore intervention on me.

This lack of a dividing line has allowed me to be a total slimy flip-flopping liberal when it comes to my musical allegiances, but in the long run I think its served me better. To paraphrase Robert Frost, I was too broadminded to take my own side in any argument.

(I'll get around to talk about this band Can Joann, in a moment, but I'm still setting up.)

In college I was way into jambands, and Phish especially, I would get stoned as hell and freak out to how incredible Trey was(is) at guitar. The reason I bring this up is because I genuinely loved the genre's music, but also that I witnessed it die a horrible death from the inside. I remember one night talking with a friend, ever the optimistic stoners we decided the great thing about the jam scene was that there was no scene. It was just a bunch of people who loved music coming together in a gathering totally free of any pretense. Later that night at a show, a girl I had driven up to the Twin Cities with turned to me after we got in front of the stage said, 'Wow I really like the Minneapolis jam scene.' Then I realized how fake her college girl dreads were and that she was a totally up-tight bitch. Suffice it to say, this was the beginning of the end.

Along the years many similar things happened. They are too numerous to list completely, but they ranged from my realization that a local jam-band was fronted by a egotistic prick to the culmination in a wasted frat boy and his girlfriend at the last Phish show in Alpine Valley waving a bottle of Wild Turkey and yelling "YEAHHHHHH! Phish ROCKS!" non stop.

So what is the point of all this? Towards the end of the decline of the Jam scene, which I have now come to realize was a 'scene,' more and more people started up jam-bands which sounded more and more homogenous. A phenomenon which is still going strong especially here in Madison. Slowly, over time, the genre's conventions were boiled down into one or two basic sounds which could be imitated by nearly everyone. Essentially killing the idea of any creativity or experimentation, two things which are at the core of any thriving genre. Now it might be hard for you to imagine that I don't hate these generic jam-bands, and I don't really. It's just that I can't help but notice their genericness. I still hear bands and can't help notice the talent of the musicians and the groove, but its never a huge draw for me.

So the moral here is that every 'scene' is destined to die. Thats the only thing it can do. One of the characterizations of a scene to me at least, is that it is fresh and new, a little in-crowdy too maybe. So theres nothing that can happen over time but for general knowledge to spread, and for its green skin to slowly fade to brown and for its original tang and texture to fade away as well. Every thing lives and everything dies, its the circle of life written in the asteroids my friends.

Which finally, brings me to Can Joann. Theres nothing about this band that I don't like, but listening to it I hear absolutely nothing fresh, except maybe the fact that I'm sure all these guys, or at least the lead singer is really good looking. They flipped the top out of and hype-machine recently, making the most downloaded band list for a while. Still, this my friends, is the band that will bring the wasted frat-boys waving their bottles of whiskey and offering you as much as you want of it.

I may be wrong, and I can't really even say whether I hope I am or not. This world of Indie and Post-Punk may turn out to be more resilient than I thought and kick out an equivalent of what Green Day and Nirvana were to Punk, 20 years down the road. Still, I can't help but be a little skeptical. I take it as neither a pro or con, I'll only keep my eyes out for the next big thing.

Can Joann - Lady Luck

Can Joann - Indecision's Way


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