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. I had migrated back and forth between two scenes really, due to my two main underground music interests - one line going from the late '70s/early-to-mid '80s and then early '90s punk-to-hardcore-to straightedge hardcore-to-metal-death-metal-black-metal and then done when it sold out in the late '90s; but also post-punk ‘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, but also on a lite note bands like Neds Atomic Dustbin, The Smiths, Morrissey, etc.), 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.  Occassionally the two would overlap, but they were distinct by my age as I moved from the whole metal thing of my teenage years to the synthwave thing of my twenties.  The overlap would be something like the first three Katatonia albums, the Darkthrone band Neptune Towers (believe it or not I used to be friends with Gylve Nagell, also Faust, the drummer of Emperor, I knew the guy from Katatonia pretty well, some others I am missing I am sure).

Today bands like La Cassette or Umberto keep the 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.  Gateway Drugs (from South Africa) is pretty good, 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 we Xennials (borderline Gen-X and please-oh-God-I-am-too-close-being-a-Millennial-Nooooo!) You know, the sort of subjects that when I tell my students about the trouble we used to get into, they are astonished.  Their eyes pop open wide when I tell them something as innocent as my parents allowing me out all night when I was 16 or 17 years old and how I would hang out with friends yet still go to school the next day. The fact that many of us smoked, many of my friends did hard drugs (thankfully I avoided that), just total nihlism and debauchery of the the '80s and '90s into the 'oughts. If Na and I ever have children (we do want children desperately) I wonder how they'll turn out as raised by Xennials or X-ers.

Sorry, looks like I'm digressing here!

The scene the above article references is the scene which included the vegan/vegetarian and animal rights folks that I hung with in my teenage years. 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. Crazy times to be a teenager. I remember the righteousness, the militantism, 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 and bleached spikey hair... (oops, I wear choker beads today, they're from Thailand though so I hope it's not too out of style). 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 1985ish give or take, maybe up to the early '90s if I were pressed (I think by 1997 things were over) - those were the times. I mean, not that I literally remember or experienced the late '70s, if you were born in the early to mid '80s you still felt the impact. (Millennial kids worship Xennials for this - they try to appropriate a nostalgia they never knew.)

Something did happen after the turn of the century. But engaging that change 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 mid '30s or late '30s will also resonate with all of this.