Not the shock of the new so much as the comfort of the old. The “I like stuff that sounds like the stuff I already like” branch of the rock’n’roll fanclub meets here. This is the part where those people reflexively shout “ THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS ORIGINALITY!” Of course, when confronted with an artist who does thing differently, these same people mock them. They can’t play their instruments! They don’t know what they’re doing! This is terrible! Is this some kind of joke?
If you think rock is about learning the rules and then successfully demonstrating your knowledge of these rules, then Savages is the band for you.
Tamsin calls it MAMOR — Middle-Aged-Man-Oriented-Rock. She’s a sharp one, that Tamsin.
I don’t give a shit about originality. But I do give a shit what you do with your influences — are they a springboard or an albatross? Have you swallowed them whole or do you wear them on your sleeve like a fashion accessory. I’m not looking for something new, but I am looking for something you.
I’m not asking for originality. I’m just asking for more. I want to hear one influence that isn’t already pre-approved by a bunch of old white dudes. I want to hear one influence that isn’t already part of the accepted canon — I can’t help thinking that if this were 1985 the critics falling all over themselves for Savages right now would be massive Whitesnake fans because Whitesnake sounded like Led Zeppelin the greatest rock band of all time, not like this Replacements/Husker Du/Minutemen/Mary Chain bullshit. Meet the new orthodoxy, same as the old orthodoxy only this time with better taste. (Or is it? I’m starting to wonder.)
The irony of this--same as it's always been for the serious music aficionado--is that the best solution to the problem of fashion is to go back to the past, and those albums that have been judged and understood to be serious contributions in their own right. Nobody has to worry about the aesthetic and political significance of Funhouse or Entertainment!; social and political disputes long settled, there's only the question of whether the songs are good. What's more, this is the only music that can be genuinely surprising, and teach you something about yourself. Your feelings on Tame Impala are mostly going to be a reflection of how you feel about, say, Pitchfork. But Loveless or Voodoo--that's the sort of thing that makes sense retrospectively, but not beforehand. Voodoo, beforehand: "who could possibly like a 70-minute soul concept album about serious adult love that lacks anything close to a single, or even a hook?" After: "Well, I do like a bunch of the Soulquarian stuff, and the conceptually ambitious, so..." So also everywhere else in life: if you're only reading books or watching movies you know you'll like, why even bother?