Sunday, October 8, 2017

Blast from the past: 1977-1997 Xennial Paradise

THIS article from Chris Morgan at Jacobite resonated with me. I was around for alot of the '90s counter-culture, alternative, "underground" scene - a scene which included "'zines", tape trading, shows held in basements, barns, and living rooms usually packed with young people beyond whatever entrance door, letter-writing, running your own 'zines and shows, creating your own music using a cassette 4 track! It was a great time when true independence and music were alive.

When I was younger (and even still today) I had migrated back and forth between music of the late '70s/early-to-mid '80s and then early '90s. Punk and hardcore, straightedge hardcore, for a time thrash metal and then for a longer time death metal and black-metal. In the late '90s I eventually wounded listening to alot of neo-folk (e.g. Death in June, Sol Invictus, Der Blutharsh, Non, etc.)  I also really liked ‘70s and '80s synthwave, whether coldwave, neo-romanticist wave, sometimes college underground alternative at its more goth or darker edges (The Cure mostly - whose album "Disintegration" is still unbeatable today, also synthwave like Argento/Carpenter-isms moving more into early/mid-’80s new wave which was always dark, weird, contemplative and sometimes creepy or (most times) sad and melancholic. Some of my best teenage years while playing music (in bands, not just listening to it) where during the times I was friends with the guys from Katatonia, Darkthrone (yes, believe it or not I used to be friends with Gylve Nagell), and Faust, the drummer of Emperor. Some others I am missing I am sure, but I should mention that I was pretty close also with many of the Polish black metal bands: Graveland, Veles, Infernum.  Back in those days everyone tape-traded and wrote letters in the mail!

Today bands like La Cassette or Umberto keep my synthwave tradition alive, as does probably in the most important way: John Maus. John Maus is amazing, so definitely go to YouTube or search him on this blog and check him out.  The band Cold Cave is really good (love them, check them out), Blood Sound is great (from Philly), Graveyard Club, Geometric Vision, and for other current bands I know I am forgetting so much.  Oh, I also think very early Raveonettes is pretty good, melancholy inside an indy-pop wrapper of sorts, with all of the lyrics covering the "darker" subjects of life.

The scene that the above article references is the scene which included the vegan/vegetarian and animal rights folks that I hung with in my teenage years *just* before I started moving from straight-edge hardcore music into death metal and black metal. As young and rebellious straight-edge kids we took no shit because we had a life-style which was pretty self-righteous, and we knew it. Our lifestyle just happened to overlap with the Thrudvant folks who also just happened to be radical Odinists. They basically were pescetarians and had many of the straight-edge kids values anyway. (That was my gateway drug into death metal and black metal: Mayhem, early Burzum, the Emperor and Enslaved split, etc.)  Crazy times to be a teenager.

As far as my straightedge phase goes, I remember how especially militant we all were, and the awe of just how many young people like me were interested in such an "underground" thing. I'm laughing at how we dressed with our choker beads wrapped around our necks, how we bleached our hair, how we drew big fat X-s on our hands.  We loved bands like Earth Crisis ("Firestorm," "All Out War," "Destroy the Machines"), Hatebreed, also Chokehold was pretty big (and is, as of two years ago when they played a year-long reunion tour aged in their late '30s. Still, so great). Almost forgot the great band Abnegation.

Youth culture is a funny thing, because it seems alot of those values are things I'm still concerned with today, or still find interesting today at the least: things like nature mysticism, animal rights, sentionautics, the aesthetic feel and tone of melancholia, counter-culture, and anything which brings me back to the best decade of time itself: the '80s. Further, I believe the little tunnel of, oh, 1977 through to 1985-ish give or take, and then beginning again in 1990 and going up until maybe 94, 95, or 96 at the latestest, would certainly be a time-travel tunnel to take if one wanted to relive the best years of music within the past 50 years. I also experienced the late '70s "posthumously" let's say, because if you were born between 1977-1985 the late '70s affected you anyway. Same with the early '90s, you felt the effects of the late '80s.  Even "older Millennials" - currently 32-ish and up to 36 or 37 - have a "Xennial" feel to them, meaning they are a combination of Generation-X (sometimes called "the coolest generation") and Older Millennials ("Xennials," or sometimes called the "The Oregon Trail Generation").

Something did happen to music after the turn of the century. But engaging that change in music is for another day. I think I've made my point, which I absolutely know, trust me, is very subjective. But I do think that anyone who is in their early to mid '30s or even late '30s at the time of writing this will probably resonate with much of it.