As a music obsessive, I not only listen to music, I analyze it and attach personal relevance to it. I have non-linear relations in my head between genres and artists. Time and space overlap and sometimes blend together like two intersecting strokes of paint. My CD collection isn’t organized by artist name or album title. It’s a complicated system of genre and artist relation that I don’t quite understand myself. The Beatles flow into Badfinger and then to Big Star into Elliott Smith and the Coral. The Smiths stand next to Morrisey’s solo work and then Electronic, the The, and the Healers, with the Pretenders’ “Windows to the World” single (with Johnny Marr on guitar) somewhere in between. Of course, I could put all the Pretenders’ stuff in there since Marr was so heavily influenced by James Honeyman Scott and I also have to make room for the New York Dolls and Sandie Shaw.
So, my first listen to the Arctic Monkeys went like this:
Hey, this is pretty cool. I can see the Libertines comparison, but it’s not QUITE there. Kinda like when the Stone Roses were winding down before the five-year hiatus and we were all dying. The Charlatans “The Only One I Know” single came out and we were all “OK, I can dig this.” But then Some Friendly wasn’t quite as amazing as the Roses’ debut. It was good, but not magical. So are the Arctic Monkeys playing the role of the Charlatans to the Libertines? And then who are the also-rans; The Inspiral Carpets and the Flowered Ups? Is Kasabian the Happy Mondays? Where’s Bez?
These are the lame internal dialogues I have all the time. It’s not enough for me to simply acknowledge a band’s influences, I also attach my own personal influences and storyline. But with each new band I discover, I have to change the story and realign the relationships. If the Arctic Monkeys are to be a subset of the Libertines, then how do I connect that to their obvious Blur influence, none of which I find in Carl and Pete’s work? All of this leaves my CD rack in a shambles, which leads me to Pete’s new band…