2015: Let’s Get on With This Shit

fuck_yeah Ah man, one more alcoholic mini-apocalypse until 2015 starts in earnest and I dunno, 2014 was probably our best year yet at Song, by Toad, but I am cautiously looking forward to 2015 and hoping it might be better. We have most of the year’s releases planned out and ready to go already – or thereabouts, anyway – and I can imagine writing something very similar to the previous sentence in almost exactly twelve months as I look back on yet another year of releasing my own favourite records, wondering how the fuck I am still getting away with all this.

Hopefully the world’s fascination with tepid, dreamy and completely fucking lifeless wishy-washy electronic duos will have fucked right the fuck off by the end of 2015 too. There is so much of it, and it is so formless, lifeless, passionless and dilute that I can barely muster the strength to close the fucking tab whenever I accidentally click through to one of their videos. The names aren’t always the obvious signposts they are with many other bands, so you can be fooled, and then it’s upon you like Kryptonite. Or like spider venom, leaving you immobilised by its tedium and unable to lift a finger to save yourself from the life-sapping joylessness.

I know that shit it is a favourite of labels because you can stuff a couple of Shoreditch hipsters in the back of a fucking Vauxhall Corsa and send them on tour at minimal expense, but is that the defining characteristic of whether a band is considered signable these days? Fuck off. It’s the same with all these bearded, top-knotted folk-soul singer songwriters out there. Jesus Christ that shit makes the genitals of everyone in the fucking room shrivel up and drop off within the first impassioned ten seconds. Middle class boys with no real problems cannot evince emotion by faking heartfelt delivery, no matter how much they wobble their heads and scrunch up their eyes with sincerity. If you see one in the street or a pub please do everyone a favour and smash up their fucking guitar and cut off their fucking stupid top-knot.

Folk music should be fucking dead anyway by now, given how it was utterly overwhelmed by the upper middle classes almost the second it went overground. Sure, they can listen to and make whatever fucking music they like, but let’s not call it art please. It’s no more a fucking calling than repeated holidays in Tuscany make them connoisseurs of Italian culture – another ornament in a life lived by fucking design and not fucking spark.

Guitar music used to have that – that inner rage – and that was what made it so vital. Fortunately 2014 finally seems to have brought us to the end of the constant articles about whether or not guitar music was absolutely dead, or thrillingly revitalised. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Royal Blood seemed to be proof that both conclusions were indisputably true. Personally, mainstream guitar music has been fucking OVER for fucking years – since that post-post-Britpop turdpocalypse era which spat abortions like The Feeling, The Hoosiers, Hard Fi and the fucking Pigeon Detectives into the world – but there has always been truly awesome stuff being made in the underground. Fierce, snarling and spiteful.

Pop music is supposed to be the opposite of that mythical guitar-wielding howler of truth: as crafted, designed, assembled, polished and delivered as perfect gaudy Japanese confectionery. And yet it seems that this year liking Taylor Swift has been the most ‘real’ thing people can fucking do. Real enough to unabashedly love pop music is this year’s musical badge of honour – a year of post-snob snobs for whom anyone who suggests that their brand of fun is just vacuous shit is just trying too hard to be earnest and meaningful to allow themselves to have fun. Just relax. Just enjoy yourself. Then you will like this. No. No I fucking won’t. It’s garbage.

We get into a simple clash of views here. Taylor Swift is just shitty, pointless bubble-gum pop and I do not understand why she is the hipsters’ candy-floss of choice this year. Maybe because she’s white, middle-class, tame, self-consciously content-free and utterly, utterly unthreatening. I would say ‘she’s no different to the fucking Spice Girls and fucking Katy fucking Perry’ and whilst I intend that as a dismissive criticism, a lot of folk would just say ‘exactly – that’s exactly what she is’ and see it is as a compliment. I just don’t fucking like pop music I suppose.

But why her? Why is she the fluff that the earnest cognoscenti have decided it is okay to embrace? It’s like they’ve realised that if they all agree on one thing they can pretend is ‘smarter’ or better than the other hollow prancing then they can give themselves a collective free pass for liking it, and then carry on intellectualising the gritty and real tomorrow as if nothing had ever happened.

But let’s face it, the alternative press really is no longer the alternative press anyway. Since when were underground music sites honestly and with a straight face reviewing albums by Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. Even a lot of the ‘alternative’ stuff getting coverage has a ton of major label or management money behind it. All these Hot Tips for 2015 and Radio 1 hot new artists are all well-researched and market tested on social media before they are ever considered for overnight success.

It’s the nature of the hipster and hipster-hatred, I suppose. You create an underground, it gains momentum and then bursts into the overground, hollows itself out and eventually bursts, releasing nothing but hot air and flimsy pretence into the world, and lo we have to start all over again.

Unsurprisingly, as a middle-class (sort of) hipster myself I don’t hold much truck with hipster hatred. The last person to admit to being a hipster is generally the hipster themselves, but I don’t mind it. I am not cutting edge and I don’t mind that. I dress how I like, and I know how much that’s influenced by fashion. I am a foodie to an extent, and I like that. I am not going to cultivate my own heritage strains of kale in the back garden, but you know, small-batch gin and salads of bitter leaves are nice things.

I know there are some utterly detestable things happening in the world of hipsters at the moment, but it’s just underground fashion being co-opted by the wealthy mainstream, pre-middle aged and very much middle class, just like absolutely every single fucking fashion movement in the history of fashion. And far, far more annoying than the ‘guitar music is dead/rejuvenated’ and the (thankfully over, I think) ‘blogs are/aren’t dead’ pontificating has been the proliferation of pseudo-intellectual lamenting of the dire truths the hipster reveals about our society.

Just fucking stop it. When fashions go overground they lose their potency, their meaning and become simple avatars of people’s self-image, as meaningless and quickly changed as their Facebook profile pic. Although if you wrote one of those articles it probably contained a line about you quitting Facebook for ever and ever next week anyway. That’s always the way it has been and hipsterism is no more important than any other fashion trend which has peaked and is ripe for being undercut by something new and more interesting, brewed in the underground where they are already utterly fucking sick of organic, knit-your-own heritage juniper-infused artisan home-reared poussin dans son jus.

So rejoice. That imbecilic fucking cereal bar in Shoreditch (or wherever it was) and the stupid fucking cat café here in Edinburgh and all the idiots infusing their own this or that with something their grandparents used to make before the war aren’t the signs of the end of society, they are the squeaky sounds of a bubble so bloated and stretched so thin that it can’t do anything other than burst and make way for the next thing, which will be stewing away somewhere already.

I probably won’t notice it for years, because as I said, I am not exactly cutting edge. But as the alternative music press goes mainstream there will already be new forms being hatched somewhere; and as top-knotted soul-folkies ruin the acoustic guitar for anyone with the faintest flickerings of an actual soul, there will be someone doing something nasty somewhere which we can embrace instead, and as the focus-grouped stars of the new underground emerge from their clickbait, What Happened Next Just Broke My Heart cocoons into the foetid reality of the pop world, there will always be some stubborn, pig-headed fuckwit out there incapable of doing what the people want, because they just don’t have it in their personality to bend that way.

So as much as it permanently enrages me and vigorously stokes the fires of indignation which keep me pointlessly tilting at windmills as chimerical as they are immovable, 2015 should perhaps be the year to acknowledge that if you laud the underground, the DIY, the contrarian and the stubborn, determined visionary, no matter how small the vision, then you have to accept that setting yourself against the mainstream means that mainstream acknowledgement will not and possibly even should not come your way.

Because that would, in some way, make you just like them. And you can’t have it both ways.