My third genre

One of the joys of running a longterm blog is to explore, in the open, different topics always wondered about, or even to work through various issues – both yours and mine.


One of those issues to work through is to try to nail why we like some songs, some music, and yet within the same genre, there are others we don’t – is it the riffs, the monotony, the singer him or herself?

There are three main genres at the top of my list – Baroque or early music, early jazz and revival, plus this one this evening which I’m finding terribly difficult to nail.

Sure I like southern rock, some country, certainly 50s rock ‘n roll, dancing music, tango, many different genres and styles, but there’s one I like more than the others and there’ve been posts passim on this – I’ve tried to pin the factors down.

For me, liking this style began with The Byrds and their jingle jangle melodic loudness, but listening again to The Bells of Rhymney, I don’t know – there’s just something a bit ‘twee’ and ‘safe’ about it all, it does not venture beyond harmonies, does not soar and swoop, does not build as our first song [above] this evening does.

The reason I prefer the 90s jangle is that it had more unpredictability and menace, more inventiveness – I love melodic but it needs to make you feel you don’t know exactly what it has in store, where it’s going – the song needs to carry you on a rhythmic journey, with enough variation and danger to make it interesting.

The Yardbirds did that, especially with I’m A Man but what lost it for me were the guitar-egos involved, they were ‘showing off’, Clapton and Beck, Page, and I don’t like that. There’s a tall, female saxophonist whose name escapes me, much feted, but she leaves me cold – it’s just various squawkings in a row and I find that, along with modern jazz and Glenn Miller super-smoothness, a total bore.  Plus in her case, she believes her own publicity.

I don’t like piano bar music either, with off-key singers – Girl from Ipamena is one of the worst songs ever. If you like, you could call it too sophisticated and soulless, too grown-up and world-weary. I’d rather raw early Nazareth or Yardbirds.

It’s that boring ‘adultness’ once you’ve put childish things like Heart and Soul aside and have entered the dreaded world of one’s 30s and 40s – the world of dinner parties and sexual innuendo at the table – that’s what makes me run a mile to get away.  Aaaaagggghhhh.

The readers at this blog have an edginess which I personally find refreshing and invigorating, we don’t seem to have too many formulaic commenters here – good analogy.

So yes, my third genre must have drive and carry you away, it can be discordant and distorted if it wants but at the same time, tied to a melodic frame, and it must reach some intensity – what I didn’t like about Ipamena is it never went anywhere – it’s late night piano bar music.

I was listening to some Athens, Georgia bands and some of them began inventively, seemed to be loud-melodic, all was well and then they just seemed to lose all form and somehow, they must have thought this meant edgy, tough, manly.  Ride over here were like that too and it’s a really male thing – don’t know why guys think that that’s pleasant to hear.

The Pale Saints song above is like that – it builds, it’s loud but melodic hard pop – the bassline and voice lifts it quite substantially.

Instrument-wise, well each of these songs must have an adept bassline, the bassist must know what he’s doing, there must be something leading and taking it through the roof and back again, suddenly pausing – can be one instrument, can be the singer, doesn’t matter.

I particularly like delayed ends to bars, i.e. the singer stops but the bar has still not been completed, also creating a drone effect – love that, it’s a sort of bare branch melancholy which I find relaxing, being an Iceman.

This one not so much but it does have some elements:

The singer needs to be either unusual or insignificant … but never egotistical.

Therefore, Elvis or Sinatra don’t cut it for me, Pale Saints do, Deano is a bore but the singer in the first song tonight is good, even though not perhaps possessing the best voice in the world – it fits the song. I like simple, honest, slightly amateurish in feel although consummate in playing ability – don’t want much, eh?

I do like girls’ singing voices but they always soften a number unless they’re horrible people, SJW druggies, the boys though tend to have a naturally uncontrolled, raw edginess the girls don’t, the blend of the two can be nice.

Finally, all those elements together in the hands of masters:

3 comments for “My third genre

  1. February 17, 2019 at 00:48

    The Only Ones were they best British band of the late 70s. Another Girl, Another Planet is great but Way Out of Here is every bit as good.

    I’m glad you mentioned soaring and sweeping – essential ingredients.

    It is interesting that the many 70s, 80s and 90s bands influenced by The Byrds were mostly better than The Byrds. Perhaps because there was less hippie influence.

    The Church at their peak (The Unguarded Moment, Metropolis, Almost With You) did the Byrds thing quite well. It’s one of life’s little ironies that their one international hit was the worst single they ever released (Under the Milky Way).

    As for New Order, they need quite did it for me. Apart from Bizarre Love Triangle.

  2. February 17, 2019 at 01:14

    Looking back now I’m amazed at just how important music used to new to me. Because these days I’m almost completely indifferent to it. In fact if anything I have a slight hostility to music.

    Of course it’s easy enough to understand why rock’n’roll would become less important as one gets older. Without hormones racing around rock’n’roll is kinda pointless. But oddly enough I’ve largely lost interest in classical music as well.

    I tried many times to get into jazz. I managed to learn to like swing but that’s about it.

  3. February 17, 2019 at 06:04

    Frighteningly, DforD, I find myself agreeing with the above, especially in supermarkets. Because I look for music to send to fit a mood, youtube latches on and supplies.

    Sadly, for my fave genre, there are not all that many songs good enough with each band. Ride were an example – a couple of real crackers but tapers off severely after that. Lush were pretty poor, I must have sampled twenty bands yesterday

    There’s this thing they do when they’ve run out of ideas or are looking for fillers and it’s laying a mechanical beat and trying to fit whatever half idea to that – it sounds strained and uninspired – the beat should fit the song in my book, not the other way – it is the bass which should lead.

    The other way is just go loud and distorted, ugly change ups, discordant chords – is it deliberate? But among the dross are these few good songs and they accumulate slowly over time.

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