Reproducing the good and bad decisions of the past - Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats above their station - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #168

People seem to quite like these ‘state of the union’ type posts where I cast my half-hooded whisky eye over the last few putrid years of culture’s most vestigial feature, the continued prevalence of all levels of rock and roll. From stadium-filling geriatric clowns to fresh-faced up-and-comers rocking out right beside the fire exit, so young the show concludes with the cutting of the umbilical cord. It doesn’t fit together, it’s a disorganised clusterfuck, there’s no weekly podcast or magazine to tell everyone what to listen to or what to do, hence why you still get Nu Metal bands even though most of us would rather fellate a nailgun than slip out of our opium coma long enough to remember the early 2000s. I’ve been predicting rock’s ultimate rise out of the murk of nerd-dom and return to the culturally relevant stage again, god help us all. Thankfully Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats are here to make sure rock and roll stays a trainspotting pastime, by being bored, retrograde, hopelessly tied into all the iconography that makes “70’s inspired” rock bands so bloody insipid.

My quandary isn’t so much with the music, which is the same faux-intellectual retro-70’s tedium being barfed all over the internet by a million talentless nobodies with access to theoretically unlimited images cribbed from classic horror of busty heroines with their shirts hanging open. It’s boring and lazy and replicates accurately that special kind of occult seventies rock that Witchfinder General transcended, Electric Wizard combined with latterday Pentagram into something worth listening to (until Jus Oborn disintegrated the project, but that is another story), Black Sabbath were entirely above (despite what you remember) and Coven did with more interest. Uncle Acid’s initial trip was good for an album of unselfaware nostalgia for a time that didn’t really exist, but by the second trip the whole enterprise has grown stale. It isn’t just that it’s an oversubscribed trend, I’m not sure the idea itself holds water. The fabled seventies bands, where ideas of what heavy rock was were still being debated, and a whole generation of super-amplifiers that would shame even today’s pub-deafeners were letting a whole generation of young hippies explore their inner selves through the medium of vibration, heavy vibration. Spectacular albums were created, Purple, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Blue Cheer; and great unfortunate underground fare, Vulcan’s See Your Ghost gets heavy rotation; we’ve already covered the ramshackle blues machinations of Red Dirt and the mostly successful proto-everything greatness of Hairy Chapter. Uncle Acid is a poor imitation of these disparate and unique groups, a pretender to a throne they don’t understand or deserve. It’s Death Proof to Hot Lunch’s Django Unchained. Again, all this would be fine, so far, so bandcamp. What worries me is that this is what is trumpeted as the new watermark of the occult strain of the modern blues rock genre, when there are other bands toiling away in obscurity who much better understand how and why those now-deemed classic records came about, as well as the Day After the Sabbath internet hivemind that made sporadic one-album 1000-run 70’s psyche mandatory listening for all potential pub groups.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats is for people who think they’re listening to something piercing, deconstructionist, retro and timeless. The groove is okay and the beat is okay and by claiming it’s reference-bait you get away with a lot of flaws. It’s an ironic fifties themed diner. Reproducing good and bad decisions of the past, some of which came out of limitations of the time, as historical document and honest reproduction rather than building an original band playing music of the new century inspired by the music of the past. There are contemporary bands who get this right; the aforementioned Hot Lunch, the Black Angels latest Zen firebombing, Blues Pills and Deap Vally, injecting 2000’s pop with syringes of blues rock, Haight Ashbury who sing songs you think you’ve heard before but are actually doing something far less edgy than the seventies bands would have thought to do. Even King Blood nail that fuzzy Vulcan sound perfectly. I fear for rock and roll, if our taste distinctions have decayed to such a point as the half-hearted ignorant knock off is the release of the month being lauded from the rooftops for every critic word under the sun, and called most worryingly the one thing it isn’t: original.

Written under duress by Steven.

Post script: Want to pay the weekly blood sacrifice and kneel at the Sabbath altar? Check out the second song to drop from the new Jex Thoth album. I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it.

1 comment:

AVFN said...

great article. personally, i think you could expand the critique to include the same tiresome trend for nostalgia in the recent waves of black-thrash metal and the nwoosdm (new wave of old school death metal).

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