Arctic Monkeys: Feel Flows

Your brain on...somethingAs 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…

8 thoughts on “Arctic Monkeys: Feel Flows”

  1. Me and Chuck D, we don’t believe the hype. But I take it a step further: hype has the same effect on me that garlic has on a vampire. I just can’t get near it.

    I don’t care if it’s the NME or Pitchfork, any publication that goes into automatic histrionics over some new band is just getting into a game of “I heard them first” snobbery. Yuck. I’m sure I’ve missed out on some great music over the years, but really, who fucking cares? I’ve heard plenty of great new stuff that doesn’t get nearly the hype. And I’ve heard way too much mediocre to half-decent shit from Devendra Banhart, Arcade Fire and M.I.A. to make me clap my hands over my ears and say no.

    So if I’d had my way, I never would have heard the Arctic Monkeys. I’ve seen the headlines, how their album sold more records in the U.K. than any debut in history. Or whatever. Who cares?

    But then a couple weeks ago at a party a friend pulled his Memory Stick out of his pants and forced me to listen to few songs on our host’s laptop. And goddamn, the songs were good. I then, naturally, retrieved my Memory Stick keychain from my coat pocket and copied the album. And I’ve been listening to it ever since. That’s the new peer-to-peer filesharing. Bust that, RIAA.

    And it’s still good. I’m excited to see what direction these kids end up going in. Maybe you’ll have to wait to categorize them until they’ve released another record or two…

  2. They remind me a bit of the Jam, though Alex has more of a cocky sassiness than Paul Weller, who was just angry and instense (don’t get me wrong, I loved the Jam).

    I am totally loving this record, despite the hype. “Still Take You Home” has been ringing in my head for days.

  3. hype is kinda like those bk chicken fries. its makes a bad idea sound kinda good. until you digest it. then NOT good.

    so try NEVERMORE.

    like a protein bar, tastes bad, kinda good for you, others dont stick thier paws in trying to get a bite. its something you just force down on yourself. no hype.

    artic monkeys? shamrock shake. its good. but i dont miss it much when its gone for a year.

  4. As a fellow non-hypester, I can appreciate the reluctance…but the truth is that “WPSIA, TWIN” is a terrific album.

    …& after all Jake, aren’t the best parties those in which friends pull a Memory Stick out of their pants?

    Glad you enjoyed…

  5. i saw the Arctic monkeys play last night in Chicago..

    brilliant..they really had style and i had an amazing time..

    believe the hype..they are cool and i love them…



  6. great post. i havent heard the arctic monekeys yet, but absolutely hear you per the avoiding the hype sentiment. I recently had a similar experience with Boy Least Likely To who I had ignored until SXSW.

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