Columns | What is Your Conceptual Continuity?

by James Turner

Fucking do not and will not ever understand this love for insincere bands that are only there as a "so-bad-it's-good" joke for anything more than a personal thing amongst (and for) friends.

It's not that I don't get behind stuff that was intentionally humorous when it comes to performing acts, but for fuck's sake, it's not a new idea and people have done it before—

Only those people also happened to leave us with music people still actually enjoy, without having to hide behind the forced detachment of "irony," or the pretentiousness of being "avant-garde"!

Although they, too, were praised by the pretentious, mainstream rock had Frank Zappa and Devo (although they were just incorporating humor into amazing music, not just having a laugh), hardcore had Nig Heist, post-punk had the Butthole Surfers, alt-rock had They Might Be Giants...

The difference was, we were also still left with music you could get behind, and not have to challenge yourself to enjoy just to keep up with the people around you; music that was memorable, and enjoyed for many years later, not just laughed at (not with) by anyone who wasn't in on the joke.

Hearing modern acts that produce this stuff, for me, feels like trying to breathe oatmeal, to the point where nearly any form of sincere music feels like the relief of an emergency tracheotomy. What's so difficult about "taking the piss" and giving something back of non-fleeting value?

The opposite of this is what's known as "outsider music": stuff that is arguably terrible or genius, depending on your viewpoint, but is nearly completely self-unaware. It's not manufactured irony, it's sincere, no matter how horrible it may (or may not) be.

If you're unfamiliar, refer to Wild Man Fischer, the manic-depressive schizophrenic (I believe that's his actual diagnosis), produced by Frank Zappa:

This other shit I'm talking about? Think of the mock-jazzy intro part to "Bitchin' Camaro" by the Dead Milkmen.

Now, imagine someone got the idea that that should be an entire band-concept, or an album's worth of material.

Anyway, bring your scorn if you're feeling butthurt at all about what I said, but I'll warn you: It will be a headed-nowhere conversation. I prefer to be challenged, and either feel stronger about my position or open to seeing a new perspective that I couldn't consider without the help of another.