Thursday, 4 July 2013

What qualifies as ‘Alternative Rock Music’ these days?

The term ‘alternative’ is one of the most over-used terms in music.

Bands like REM have been described as alternative, its meaning diluted to the point it is itself now virtually redundant, self-prescribed.   

‘Alternative’ to what?  

Contestants off The X-Factor?  

Neil Diamond? 

 Alternative to me is something like Throbbing Gristle or Einstürzende Neubauten.  

Bands that explore musical soundscapes that set themselves apart from their contemporaries, set-out to be different damn the audience numbers, record sales and media write-ups.     

Try and sound different, simply because they desire to do so. 

One of the dictionary meanings of the word is after-all: ‘Existing outside traditional or established institutions or systems’.   

Can the term in its rawest form be attributed to Soundgarden, Linkin Park and All American Rejects – the first names that appear on google when you type in ‘alternative rock band’? 

All these bands are generic, have peers, been there done that.   

Who were the peers of Devo when they first came out?     

Who else sounds like Radiohead these-days?  

Being a punk or death metal band doesn’t mean you are alternative.    

Punk and Metal are fairly main-stream and have been about for ages, seen little movement away from the original template set 30/40 years ago.  

Most parents of teenagers probably have a Black Sabbath or Deep Purple album lurking somewhere. 

Nor does wearing a mask, chopping things apart with a chainsaw on stage actually qualify a band as being alternative. 

Only your music can do that.   

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