Riley McCorkle/Western Student
Don’t get me wrong, I love avocado. I never used to be a huge avocado fan until my dad convinced me to take another look at their simplistic beauty: so safe, so scrumptious, so healthy. This last summer I found myself blending avocados into every meal.
But recently, the avocados have been browning, from the outside in. Today, my roommate was about to slice into one.
“I wouldn’t do that dude,” I said.
“Why not?” He looked offended.
“The avocados, they’re just past their prime.” After a squishy avocado tug-of-war, it became clear to both of us: the season of the avocado was over.
I learned a lot recently about letting go of something you’ve enjoyed for so long. Indie rock. That’s right, I know it’s difficult to hear. Our beloved Indie rock has been a beautiful fruitish-vegetible-ish thing that is no longer fresh, green, and ripe. It has become mushy, brown and covered in a nasty yuppie fungus.
It has been most difficult to let go right here in our fine town of Bellingham. It was only yesterday we’d bump into Ben Gibbard on Ellis Street. It was only yesterday that Modest Mouse ruled Seattle, and Portland blossomed with the Shins, Menomena, and Portugal. the Man. It was only yesterday that the Northwest was astir with new talent, who were able to capture a singer-songwriter sound with dreamy vibes. But today, our ripe avocado has been replaced with a moist and soggy attempt at mimicking what has already been done.
Yet, there is hope. Just because indie rock is dead that doesn’t mean there are not young musical styles rocking wildly in their cribs. It is now 2010. The new decade holds an exciting blend of technological dreams, financial nightmares, dismantling industries and of course, the legalization of marijuana on the West Coast. So, I encourage all you Bellingham musicians, with your plaid button-ups, winter scruff and acoustic guitars, look beyond simplistic folk anthems of road trips and stargazing and be open minded to the new era that approaches.
But, if not avocado, then what? As a token of my appreciation and encouragement, I’ve provided below just a few examples of movements underway that you can use to expand your creativity.
Math rock: Brought to life by mid-90s bands such as Don Caballero, Hella, and Battles, math rock can be recognized by its use of intricate instrumentation and irregular time signatures. Considered ahead of its time in comparison to its grunge counterpart, math rock has re-emerged across the fertile West Coast through the work of Tera Melos and the Fall of Troy, and has even jumped across the lake to Japan. Young talents as Pat Goodwin and the Monostereo, A Lot Like Birds, the Speed of Sound in Seawater, and local Bellinghamsters Rooftops have added their own spin on a genre seething with much innovation to be done.
The Digital Sound: Now is the first time in history that any kid with a laptop has been given the capability of producing professional music. This digital medium has also only begun to provide the first successful common ground for “rock” tones with hip-hop swagger.
Cross-cultural: In this day and age, you are rarely able to find a coffee shop or bookstore without authentic international music compilations, such as Putumayo. Musicians have only scratched the surface on the possibilities that come with this new accessibility of world genres. A primary illustration of genre blending is the Mars Volta, who is able to express a traditionally Spanish, Latin, and Salsa foundation through the explosive, epic power of a modern rock band. But genre blending is also in our own backyards. Local ‘hamsters Curse of the Black Tongue are successfully able to blend surf, hillbilly and Elvis-esque genres into a neat, thrash package. Though the potential energy of cross-cultural genre blending is great, it is an art that remains largely untapped.
With so many options for tomorrow, it is a wonder why too many musicians find themselves caught in the music of yesterday. So I ask, nay, I plead, calling on all of those fine men and women who call themselves musicians: rise up and embrace the new decade. The most difficult part about living in these times is being ahead of them, but I promise you all, a new day is beginning.