Your Opinion Is Wrong: Never Stop Talking About These Bands



Last week, some feathers were no doubt ruffled as I riffed on a handful of coveted and beloved, debatably overrated, allegedly already forgotten and/or “sacred” bands that I kindly asked the world to stop speaking about. Whether it was unchecked musically elitist hipsterism or a rational reaction to pop culture having lashed those bands' dead-horse legacies to a pulp concerns me not. I still don’t want to talk about any of those bands.

I would, however, still like to talk about bands. Some of us just do. You’re totally free to hang out, listen to your records and enjoy them in peace. You can ignore the stuff you don’t like and never speak a word of it to anyone. The rest of us have shit to talk about. There are equal amounts of distaste and praise to hand out. To some of us, the unexamined jam isn’t worth listening to.

Keep in mind, the merits of these very discussions are time sensitive. Were I typing this in a fanzine 20 years ago, the “Beatles vs. Stones” chestnut would still be old hat, but reasonably legit in some contexts. The Sonics would have been a perfectly underrated band to exhume and re-examine. Hell, even up to 10 years ago, I would have heralded The Screamers’ collection of raw demos the greatest L.A. punk record never made. But time wounds all heals and sets the context for discussion on virtually any topic. So right here, right now, until further notice — never stop talking about the following bands.

1. Black Flag

I know what you’re thinking: “Predictable.” Right? Well, I obviously already knew you were going to say that, so I guess that makes you the predictable one.

I don’t even know where to start. How about by debating the merits of My War’s excellent side A against the much more influential, coveted and hyped side B (you certainly wouldn’t be the first, but I don’t think it’s been properly settled). I say the rare version of Damaged with Dez Cadena on vocals is far better than the official featuring Henry Rollins. That version sucks. Do you disagree? If participating alone, get high and play side A of Family Man simultaneously with The Process of Weeding Out and think about how that was or wasn’t only cool because you were high. Who’s your favorite Flag vocalist? If your answer doesn’t change every few years, you’re feeling it wrong. Do you have the band’s logo tattooed on your body? If so, that’s fucking lame. If not, you’re a poser.

2. Lauren Hill

So you think Jeff Mangum went insane trying to top his own masterpiece? Shut your whore mouth and ask yourself what Lauryn Hill is doing right now.

3. Public Image Ltd.

You see what I there? It’s been said that PiL is the Sex Pistols of post-punk. Also, they have the same singer. I personally would invert that to say John Lydon’s contributions to music post-Pistols were far more expansive and a hell of a lot less limiting.

Anyone who slagged Lydon for appearing in a butter advertisement in 2008 can at least credit him with good reason. The money he made as a corporate puppet went toward reviving the band in 2009 for a new album and tour once contractual obligations expired and he was again allowed to tour and record as PiL.

4. My Bloody Valentine

Oh, there’s been plenty of posthumous lamenting over MBV’s two-album discography in the last 20 years, not to mention a chronic case of super-fan blue balls inspired by bandleader Kevin Shields’ never-ending promises of remastered reissues and a spanking-new album (aka the new Chinese Democracy). As if the intricate ear-bleeding bliss of the original releases aren’t lamented over enough with every passing year, the whole damn discography has been remastered several times over, resulting in even further examination over sonic improvements of the repackaged product every time a publication gets an advance copy.

While no doubt a sonic prodigy, Kevin Shields isn’t over-romanticized by fans as a tortured genius so much as cursed by his very devotees as either a dissatisfying perfectionist or maybe just a lazy prick. Case in point, I've yet to actually see the aforementioned reissues in a record store, and to my knowledge they have yet been released for public consumption, aside from a stream on the Guardian UK website (if I'm wrong, please correct me). Reluctant idealist or perpetual cock-tease? I’m taking the bait and keeping the fire alive.

5. Violent Femmes

The only case in which this argument is overturned is whether or not we’re talking about “Blister in the Sun,” in which case, shut up. Yes, it’s inarguably the most recognizable song in the band’s catalog, but it's also the most overplayed — not just in their discography, in motherfuckin’ history. Depending to whom you’re talking, it may even be their worst song. This admittedly once-great (I really did love it up until I was old enough to drive), incredibly redundant and inane mixtape/guitar-beginner/karaoke fave criminally overshadows a body of dark, cheerful, soulful and eclectic work that all too often escapes casual listeners who rarely ever listen past the world’s best known masturbation anthem.

So, let’s talk about the Violent Femmes. Let’s talk about their quirky and foreboding pseudo-country effort Hallowed Ground, the pervasive homosexual overtones that pop up even though Gordon Gano apparently isn’t even gay, how their cover of “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” may or may not be better than the original, and their recurring ironic and unironic religious themes (even though they aren’t Christians). Or, we could just smoke a bowl and dig on the free-jazz freak-out that interludes “Black Girls” — and never speak of “Blister in the Sun” again.

Are these the only bands we should keep talking about? Hell no. This is already a bunch of punk and alterna-garbage I'm sick of discussing. I'm gonna go listen to Young Black Teenagers or The Kentucky Headhunters while you chew on this.

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